Fans of the UK indie-pop scene rejoice, there’s a new “Next Big Thing” on it’s way. They go by the name of Catfish & The Bottlemen, and they should be awarded this title with good reason. Illuminating the best parts of the old school Brit-pop alumni, circa Oasis, while booming with the freshness of current day colleagues like Artic Monkeys, their debut full length The Balcony is set to be released in Australia on the 19th of September and if I didn’t insist you pick it up this Friday I doubt I’d be able to look myself in the mirror again.
The musical saga that is The Balcony all begins with Homesick, the most perfect opener I’ve heard in a very long time. Guitars and vocals stalk an imaginary scene, setting up an album that references sex and alcoholism so many times you might think it was in fact frontman Van McCann who invented Rock N’ Roll.
While boasting sophistication in spades, The Balcony emulates a kind of British version of pub rock grittiness with anger infused throughout. It’s clear in the vocals of tracks like the previously released Kathleen, sweet with suburban working class spirit and confused emotional angst. The single, Cocoon merges the sounds of early naughties acts like Fastball, Travis or even further back to the aforementioned Oasis, with funky folk outlines surrounding the tale of a drunken adventure.
In amongst all the garage rock delight, Catfish & The Bottlemen sneak in some brilliant, straight-forward pop highlights in tracks like the emotionally charged Pacifier and the beautifully simplistic ballad, Hourglass. Towards the back end of the LP, songs like 26 and Sidewinder rough-house the playlist with stellar backing vocals and thrashing garage inspired guitars, while the 2013 single Rango brightens with familiarity and a little bit of folk.
It’s probably Business that really sums up the vibe of the album though. The lyrics glide with a kind of naivety and hopelessness, topped off by drunken shenanigans and promises of commitment. Guitars follow the vocals politely, melding to make a killer hook after killer hook. The whole act combines to really reach out through that one – and yes, Catfish & The Bottlemen, after listening I also want to make it my business.
All in all, The Balcony is a very solid and consistent debut from the Llandudno lads. One that sticks in the brain like TP to your shoe on a crazy night out. It’s all a bit disheveled but you’re enjoying yourself too much to notice or care.