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Album Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen

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Album Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen logo for their new album (Courtesy of catfishandthebottlemen.).

Catfish and the Bottlemen logo for their new album (Courtesy of catfishandthebottlemen.).

Catfish and the Bottlemen logo for their new album (Courtesy of catfishandthebottlemen.).

Catfish and the Bottlemen logo for their new album (Courtesy of catfishandthebottlemen.).

Mawa Iqbal

It’s not like it’s something we haven’t seen before. Four British lads with shaggy hair and raspy vocals wailing angsty, lovelorn verses over garage rock instrumentals.

But how long has it been since we’ve seen it? It seems that the reign of indie rock bands such as The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, and The Killers, has long been overthrown by the rise of trap and dubstep music.

However, the popularity of edgy alternative bands is slowly coming back, with bands such as The 1975,The Neighbourhood, and Bastille who are gaining more attention and are setting their mark on the alternative music scene. They may not be anything different from past bands, but these new bands do have a special sense of nostalgia in their music, which could help this dying genre reclaim its rightful place on the throne.

Catfish and the Bottlemen is one of these new bands. Their debut album “The Balcony” charted at No. 10 in the UK Albums Chart in the Sept. 27 week. They won the BBC Introducing Award at the first BBC Music Awards in Dec.  where they performed their most critically acclaimed track from the album, “Kathleen”.

To top it off, their album is produced by Arctic Monkeys producer Jim Abbiss, which gives them the same playful crassness of AM. If you ask me, they seem like the perfect contenders for this hipster uprising.

The band, which formed in Llandudno, North Wales, consists of lead vocalist Van McCann, lead guitar Johnny Bond, bass guitar Benji Blakeway, and drummer Bob Hall. The Balcony was released with label Communion Records in the UK on Sept. 15, and in the U.S on Jan. 6.

‘Homesick’ kicks off the album with crooning vocals over a soft strumming and a bouncy beat, which leads to an exploding chorus of powerful instrumentals and with a nice touch distorted vocals. The track ends the way it starts, but it still allows for a perfect lead-in for the next track.

‘Kathleen’ picks up the energy from the previous track and runs with it. Probably the most popular song from the album, ‘Kathleen’ features raspy, Strokes-ish vocals and has enough distortion to give the song a hint of psychedelic rock. Although McCann builds a crescendo while he rants on about a difficult relationship, he immediately cuts back to softer “But let me know when I’m needed home.”

The following track ‘Cocoon’ deviates from its loud, energetic predecessors. The song infuses emotion and sentiment into an edgy alternative sound, without sounding too much like a pop-ish love song with teen angst-y lyrics.

But not all of the songs on their album give the listeners the same special, nostalgic listening experience as the first three songs. Tracks such as ‘Pacifier’, ‘Fallout’, and ‘26’ are somewhat forgettable, and even stereotypical in the sense that they’re very formulaic with how the songs are structured.

Luckily, the album doesn’t end on a low note. Ending tracks ‘Rango’ and ‘Tyrants’ take on a different approach. Rather than screaming over loud instruments and a fast tempo to receive attention, ‘Rango’’s quiet presence commands attention without demanding it, and ‘Tyrants’ uptempo bouncy guitar drifts into a slower, dream-like chorus.

There is an uprising of young, new indie rock bands as we speak. They make look and sound the same as their previously popular predecessors (The Strokes, The Kooks, Franz Ferdinand, e.t.c), but what they bring to the scene is something that hasn’t been around since 2004, the hard edginess that made these bands popular 10 years ago.

Catfish and the Bottlemen logo for their new album (Courtesy of catfishandthebottlemen.).

Catfish and the Bottlemen logo for their new album (Courtesy of catfishandthebottlemen.).

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Album Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen