The debut album, The Balcony, by Catfish and the Bottlemen was good. Released in 2014, it was ever so slightly different from what other indie bands were releasing at the time and Catfish got the credit and praise which they deserved. The second album by Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Ride, released in 2016, was okay. The same song writing formulas had clearly been recycled and the album didn’t offer anything new, but the band still got good praise, many critics blaming the album mediocracy on the infamous second album syndrome. But third time round, on The Balance, the proof is in the pudding with the blandness of Catfish and the Bottlemen.
The Balance comprises of 11 songs which are all rather average: nothing special, but not offensively bad. The main problem seems to be that these songs could be on any of Catfish and the Bottlemen’s albums. All that The Balance proves is that Catfish and the Bottlemen are incapable of growing as musicians and it just feels like they’re trying to ride the fame wave that followed the release of their first album. Catfish and the Bottlemen thought that their first album brought a tsunami-like wave of fame and praise, when it was only a noticeable ripple in the over-saturated sea that is the indie rock music industry. Churning out the same sounding music album after album will not make you successful nor memorable.
Not every song on The Balance is tedious. Van McCann’s vocals at the start of the song ‘Sidetrack’ are really nice and the simple guitar instrumental complements it nicely. The opening track and lead single on this album, ‘Longshot’ is also reasonably noteworthy. It’s the perfect indie rock catchy radio friendly track, which is definitely what Catfish and the Bottlemen do best. It’s just a shame that the rest of The Balance seemed to consist of forgettable album filler songs.
The epitome of this album is the final song ‘Overlap’. Having committed the best part of half an hour to listening to second-rate electric guitar riffs, Catfish and the Bottlemen had the nerve to end the album by fading out the last song. Normally, fading out a song feels like a bit of a cheap way to end it but there are definitely instances when it can work. This was not one of them. In fact, all this fade out did was give the impression that even Catfish and the Bottlemen didn’t know how to end this tedious third album, so faded it out in procrastination of finding a suitable song ending.
Catfish and the Bottlemen are definitely a band who had a lot of potential, but they seem to have gotten complacent and really don’t give off the impression that they want to be respected and remembered musicians. The Balance is fine, but for a third album following their subpar second album, Catfish and the Bottlemen needed to do much more. If third times the charm, Catfish are really in big trouble.