Album Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride (2016 LP)

UK band Catfish and the Bottlemen, named after lead vocalist Van McCann’s encounter with an Australian busker called Catfish the Bottleman, have recently released their follow-up album to 2014’s debut, The Balcony.

The Ride is a stonkingly good collection of tunes which are so polished and mature in their sound and production that I was genuinely surprised to learn it is only their second album. I was, frankly, sold on it about ten seconds in.

The lush, driving rhythm of opening track “7” is an instant winner, filling this bass-loving heart of mine with immediate joy. The following track, “Twice”, is a blend of a Biffy Clyro beginning with a touch of The Strokes. It was the first full song I’d heard by these guys and I couldn’t stop listening. Hearing it in the context of the album only made it better.

“Soundcheck”, “Postpone”, and “Anything” are a trio of anthemic tunes that you can easily imagine being killer in a stadium. It’s incredibly hard to resist chair/car/desk dancing to these. There’s a lovely balance with the mellow “Glasgow” and “Heathrow”. Both are gentle, acoustic pieces where McCann’s vocals shine. Being able to hear the fingers sliding along the guitar strings is a sweetly intimate interlude amidst the more energetic songs of the album.

Although hard to pick a clear favourite on The Ride, I am solidly addicted to the thumping “Oxygen”. I think I’d probably sell someone’s first-born to hear this live purely for the energy it generates. What a corker.

There’s no weak points for me at all on this album. It sounds its intent from the start and doesn’t let up until the last note. I don’t know which rock I’ve been living under to have missed these lads until now but when I find it I’ll give it a stern talking to for depriving me of this cracking band.

The Ride is already part of my music collection and I can’t wait to hear where these lads go from here. If this album is any indication I’d say there are only big things ahead.

Buy this album and turn your happiness all the way up to 11.

Review Score: 9.4 out of 10. AU-APPROVED

The Ride is out now!


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