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Album Review: Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony

2 min read

If the intriguing name Catfish and the Bottlemen doesn’t make you want to listen to their new album, The Balcony – you’re either foolish or illiterate.

With a name inspired by a Sydney busker that frontman Van McCann met as a child while growing up in Australia, Catfish and the Bottlemen is a smashing new addition to Britain’s indie rock scene. The highly praised spattering of singles released throughout 2013 all feature on their debut album The Balcony – a tribute to generic rock and roll before bands became obsessed with sounding as unconventional as possible. There’s no surprise xylophones, or spontaneous synth harmonies- only vocals, guitar, bass and some pretty bad-ass drumming.

catfish and the bottle man balconyEach song is made up of subtle contrasts, like the conglomeration of different ingredients on a pizza – and a really, really good pizza at that. For example, the different sections of Fallout are like the ham and pineapple of a Hawaiian pizza. The songs verses are a sweet, duet between McCanns vocals and a chirpy guitar. This acts as the refreshing pineapple taste to the adrenaline-laced chorus comprised of sweeping electric guitar chords and a throbbing drum-beat. Cocoon, plays out in a similar manner – spiked with a vaguely grunge sounding electric guitar solo, like a surprise chilli on a pizza you don’t remember reading on it’s list of toppings.

Similar guitar solo interludes permeate tracks on the album, evidence of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s inner Rolling Stones-esque rock star, masked by a façade of loveable “uncoolness” – a label recently given to them by The Guardian.

Hourglass stands out as the one acoustic track on the album, which testifies the bands potential to produce more than just the genial indie rock that dominates their album. Supported by the murmurs of an acoustic guitar, McCann’s quaint voice wavers pleasantly between a subdued resentment and optimistic hopefulness that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

The albums final track, Transit, ends The Balcony’s adventure through a forest of conventional rock and roll harmonies on a caffeinated high. This colourful encore to the album is ripe with raucous chord progressions, played by an electric guitar that doesn’t mind showing off in a series of Guitar-Hero worthy solos.

With the band being managed by ATC, the genius behind British rock gods Radiohead, it’s no doubt these guys are definitely going places .