Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balance (Album Review)

Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balance (Album Review)

Slowly but surely, the Welsh Alternative/Indie Rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen is climbing upstream with their bottleful of catchy Post-Punk-charged songs.

Formed in 2007, in Llandudno, Conwy, Wales, and currently comprised by founders Van McCann (vocals, guitar) and Benji Blakeway (bass) with ensuing members Johnny Bond (guitar) and Robert Hall (drums), Catfish and the Bottlemen has released two studio albums—2014’s The Balcony and 2016’s The Ride. Now, ready your cups, mugs, and glasses! The quartet are unleashing the follow-up, the highly anticipated The Balance.

Scheduled for release on Friday, April 26, 2019, through Capitol Records, Catfish and the Bottlemen’s third album picks up where its predecessors have left and made the boost even higher and more electrifying. Mixed by Craig Silvey, and produced by Ireland’s Jacknife Lee (U2, The Killers), the album came together over a 12-month period in seclusion at two locations – Grouse Lodge in Moate, Republic of Ireland, and The Chapel in the countryside of East Lincolnshire.

Eleven tracks in total, it opens with its first single—the Blues-Shoegaze combo “Longshot,” which reached number 25 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Thereafter, the mood immediately shifts gears as the upbeat stomper “Fluctuate” slices next. The Bottlemen’s playful predisposition continue with the head-bobbing, bass-driven “2all.” Then there is “Conversation,” which will take the listener to Post-Grunge’s romantic realms, previously populated by equally engaging bands such as Bush (“Everything Zen”), Theory of a Dead Man (“Santa Monica”), and Puddle of Mudd (“Blurry”).

Still swimming in the same rhythm and basking with the same energy, the triumvirate of “Sidetrack,” “Encore,” and “Basically” are, however, a change of style—a bit Jangle Pop, a tad Heartland Rock—exuding echoes of The Killers (“When You Were Young”) and The War on Drugs (“Holding On”). With the short pulses of “Intermission,” Catfish and the Bottlemen then turn subtly slow and moody, only to burst again with the melodic yet mildly metallic “Mission.” The penultimate track, “Coincide,” returns the listener to shoegazy yet sugary spaces. Finally, McCann, Blakeway, Bond, and Hall cap off the album with the initially semi-acoustic sentiment then eventually energetic flare of “Overlap.”

Simply put, Catfish and the Bottlemen is among the contemporary purveyors of Post-Punk-inspired Alternative/Indie Rock. That said, their new album is a sweet and sharp shard of that sonic trajectory, making it a must listen. There are really still lots of magnificent messages in the Welsh band’s brilliant bottle of music, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives The Balance 4 out of 5 stars.

Tour Dates:
6/11 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
6/12 – Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room at Old National Centre *(RESCHEDULED DATE)
6/14 – Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
6/17 – Toronto, ON @ Rebel
6/19 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues – Boston
6/25 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
6/26 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall

Purchase The Balance:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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