Catfish and The Bottlemen explode out of the gates on their debut, The Balcony, with an immediacy I haven’t felt since Stereophonics Language. Sex. Violence. Other? This album sounds like the album that The Strokes, Foster The People, and countless other mid-00’s bands wanted to make but fell just short of. The difference is where most of the other potentially great bands relied on style to elevate them, Catfish & The Bottlemen appear to simply rely on strong songwriting.
Every single song on The Balcony is a sing-a-long…if you don’t mind belting at full volume. I am admittedly a sucker for a catchy song that pushes the human voice to the crack under the weight, and this album is full of them, but it never feels like a cheap parlor trick. That’s not to say there aren’t dynamics on the album either. The song, Hourglass, is a lovely little acoustic piece and the album closer, Tyrants, explores the quiet, the loud, and all the spaces in-between. It is almost pointless listing the great songs to listen to from The Balcony, but make sure to start on track 1, hit Homesick, Kathleen, and then make sure to keep listening and get swept up in Pacifer, then listen to, well, just jam the whole record, it really is fantastic.
The production and mix on this album are also worth mentioning. I don’t know who manned the helm in the control room but they did phenomenal jobs. Every instrument gets its moment in the sun but never at anytime does anything feel pushed to the forefront. It is an extremely well made record from a technical standpoint.
Bands like Catfish and The Bottlemen are so important for rock music because they are, to a certain extent, devoid of style. They are reminders of the power of a great song when performed with passion. Those little reminders are what inspires the next generation of musicians and unfortunately those reminders are rarely what ever get promoted. Check out the album, you will absolutely dig it! When they come through your town, buy a ticket and go see them and savour the little joys that bands like Catfish and The Bottlemen bring to life.
(here’s the album on Spotify)
Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony