Catfish and the Bottlemen still appear to have unfinished business after the release of ‘The Ride’

Like musical marmite, there seems to be a significant divide in the camp when it comes to Catfish and the Bottlemen. While there are vast amounts of people who will fill out venues all over the world for the band, there are still a large number who don’t buy into the hype.

Their second album, ‘The Ride,’ only further cements this overly varied opinion. Half of the album is a brilliant, thumping, and pulsating journey through Van McCann’s lost loves and drunken evenings – what else – while the latter five tracks leave a lot to be desired from a band who promised so much in the wake of debut ‘The Balcony.’

That’s not to say the album isn’t a success; the highs are a triumph, and heavily outweigh the lows. Opener ‘7’ is where they’re at their best. It’s a passionate affair, including a chorus that one could only image a festival tent full of boozed up teenagers and twenty-somethings would revel in.

And this is where they’re in their element: the pounding, almost anthemic, tracks that made their debut such a standout record. ‘Twice’ is another of the same ilk, while ‘Soundcheck,’ the album’s lead single, pushes them further towards the periphery of creating a real stadium filler.

It’s clear they have an exceptional talent. The ‘Shadowplay’-esque riff in ‘Anything’ is stunning, and the chorus on ‘Postpone’ highlights just why there are so many people who have fallen in love with their music.

But by the time Van strums the final chord in ‘Glasgow,’ the album peters out into the overwhelmingly average. ‘Oxygen’ is rather Oasis in its nature; but whether this is a criticism or a plus point remains to be seen, while the smattering of references to smoking becomes more tedious than edgy.

Catfish and the Bottlemen have always done simplicity well. Their lyrics are heart-felt but easy; their sound a form of escapism, from the gorgeous hooks to the ‘lose yourself’ instrumentals. But ‘The Ride’ leaves you wanting more; there are real touches of magic laced throughout that make you think they have unfulfilled potential.

Maybe it’s time to think outside the box. While tried and tested works, it only works for so long. The positive to be drawn is that so early in their careers, Catfish can look back on their first two records as successes; but ultimately they will need to pull a lot more out the bag to change the minds of the doubters.

‘The Ride’ is out now via Island Records.

This Catfish and the Bottlemen article was written by Natalie Whitehouse, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.

Catfish and the Bottlemen

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