Catfish & The Bottlemen - The Ride (Review)

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Catfish came into the fold with their incredible debut album, The Balcony, this is one of my favourite albums and that is reflected on my review. In 2016, they followed it up with The Ride. On the album artwork alone you'd think that this album is not too dissimilar to their last, and this is only backed up by the fact that the songs are still one word long, there's a song named after a girl and there's a song that's only one number. You could argue that if it isn't broke, then why try and fix it? But you could also argue that it represents a distinct lack of progression for the band. The Welsh rockers already had a smash with their debut, so how good was The Ride?

It opens with the second single, 7, a song about the impact of a long distance relationship whilst you're 7 hours behind them. Van himself even said this was based on personal experience, and the song really brings through the dark atmosphere that he would've wanted to represent, and the desperation of it. What this song explores thoroughly is the fact that being part of a band on a world tour means that new and blooming relationships are going to be stretched so far that you just shouldn't even try. The second song on the album is Twice, the fourth single from the album, this is my personal favourite song on the album, it reminds me a lot of Cocoon from The Balcony. It borrows much of the strings from that song and very similar chord progression. This song is absolutely phenomenal live, having seen Catfish live twice now, this is definitely one of my favourite songs from them. What this album has successfully done is evolve the sound of the first album, without going in a new direction. Songs like Glasgow or Anything you just can't imagine something, so warm and fulfilling appearing on their first album, because it would have fit into the more primal, rock induced sound.

This album successfully implements the darker elements of the band, it's like with the first album they were excitable youths falling in and out of love and partying all the time, but now they're starting to feel the after effects of that with songs like Emily really pulling through that idea. But it's the acoustic tracks on the album, Heathrow and Glasgow, which really pull through on the darkness and the negative aspects of touring on Van's love life. Which brings me onto the instrumentals, the guitar playing has gone up a notch since the first album, with a much larger budget you can really tell that they have gained a higher level of production with tracks like Outside showing off this aspect. The problem with this is that they then lose some of their charm because they aren't utilising their cheaper sound to it's full potential. There's also some shots at radio potential on the album, with Oxygen arguably being that, with it's terribly catchy hook it's one of the more poppier cuts on the record. However, I feel that Catfish have tried to match their first album, and whilst this is an excellent record, it's just not quite on par with that initial debut.