Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony (Communion Records)

One of the UK's finest live acts more than deliver on blazing debut set

Released Sep 14th, 2014 via Communion Records / By Clementine Lloyd
Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Balcony (Communion Records) What better way to start a dreary Monday than to drop into the rabbit hole of a fantastic new album? We have just the thing….

And so the wait is over. Here; the freshly packaged, bruised and youthful debut album The Balcony, by Catfish and the Bottlemen. Fresh from a summer of festival sets, massive fan feedback, we have the crystalisation of seven years of crafting and grafting. How do we even start?!

It is fitting for a band touring as much as they do, for as long as they have, to open with ‘Homesick’. Fresh and stripped-back, Vans youthful voice crooning over the lo-slung riffs, the track opens the door and invites you warmly inside. This warmth will not leave your side from start to finish. This is a testament to their creation, holding your attention with addictive hooks and vocal incite that recall the sensibilities of young love, in a setting fit for The Libertines.

Given the success of the past year, you will not be forgiven for missing this single, alongside other greats ‘Sidewinder’, ‘Rango’ and ‘Pacifier’. Grabbing them some pretty stellar notoriety this year, including attention from notable radio presenters and a whole heap of fresh fans, their reincarnations on this record are slightly more polished. This could be a cause for concern, but the versions actually herald sharper relief between the instruments, clarifying the resultant clamour. With their garage-band-rock sound is still holding court however, their movement and spontaneity stays in tact.

Perhaps the nicest surprise on the record is the inclusion of ‘Hourglass’. Showcasing Van’s smooth vocals, it’s a pensive track, settling into an acoustic country riff. There is a beauty in the overarching lyrics “And I’m soooo/Impatient when you’re not mine”, the telltale yearning of true affection. This mature perspective is in opposition with ‘Business’. Lyrics “I wanna love you/but I’ve no time/for your friends they can fuckin’ do one… Lets get drunk in your bedroom” give the air of a fledgling Romeo and Juliet romance, sealing a turbulent love affair with “I wanna make you my business, I want to tolerate drunk you/I wanna make you my problem”.

‘26’, with its driving riff and fast paced smashed symbols, cements their standing as a noteworthy British Rock band. It has a punchy, rolling nature, the chorus releasing a glut of pent up energy, screeching out into the night.

Elsewhere latest Single ‘Cocoon’ bubbles with this unleashed energy, guitar riffs and hot drum loops breaching boiling point in time for the solo strings and the refrain of smashed skins running you up the flag for the final chorus. It is addictive listening, a pure charmer.

‘Tyrants’, a track that many have heard bust out at a liver performance, ends the album nicely, showcasing stretched out strings that wouldn’t be out of place from a car stereo on a night drive. Brittle strings unfurl into a relentless current, breaking at points in the lyrics, “We’d hit the ground/so lets hit the ground” acting as a fault line, giving way to a the high notes and shredded riffs. It's pretty sexy, individual parts colluding to create a delicious outro alive with all the movement Catfish do so well.

Given that the foursome are so much a live force, it is testament to them, and producer Jim Abbiss, that they managed to contain their energy and force into an 11 track record. As a debut it holds in its numbers the makings of a cult record. They could well join the ranks of the British elite of rock. Of course they will have to work hard for it, but that’s what they do. Catfish do what they love, and every track is imbued with this drive and desire.

They’re love songs, each and every one of them, with the recognition that life isn’t perfect, but its pretty damn great. Arrangements are punchy, yet with the clean lines and intelligence of the best out UK acts out there.

Go buy it. You’ll be buying a slice of music history in the making.