Catfish & the Bottlemen - The Balance - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Catfish & the Bottlemen - The Balance

by Tim Sentz Rating:3 Release Date:2019-04-26
Catfish & the Bottlemen - The Balance
Catfish & the Bottlemen - The Balance

In what might be the most appropriate title ever conceived by a band of this stature, The Balance proves once and for all that this brand of manufactured rock has finally reached peak embarrassment. Everything you could possibly want in watered-down rock and/or roll is here. Generic lyrics, generic riffs. A sound that’s very similar to about a dozen other radio-friendly rock bands that have successful tours and sell a decent amount of merch in the Midwest. The Welsh rockers offer up their third outing, and it sounds exactly like their last album The Ride, and also continue making proper nouns out of things that aren’t normally proper nouns with The Balance. The title, having little connection to the songs residing within, might be a reflection on how great the other end of the spectrum is: independent music.

Essentially, The Balance is the same album as before. Eleven songs, somewhere in the 35-minute range. There might even be a message in the concept of the album – the first album was 37 minutes, the last one was 39 minutes, this one’s 35. Hopefully, the next one is 33 minutes. Then 31. And so on. There’s also some random cursing, like on “2All” despite that being the single from the album. I’m sure during the initial framing of the album there’s a whiteboard somewhere that has, in some non-office acceptable color like neon yellow, the words “Track 3, say a bad word.” Elsewhere on that same whiteboard, possibly in a different color, “Track 2, dance song,” because that’s what “Fluctuate” literally wanted me to do, but I didn’t because I know better than to buy into this kind of stuff.

About the only redeemable moment on the album is the aptly titled “Intermission,” and its major benefit is the brevity that surrounds it. It’s minimalist, and it shows a slight tenderness that one misses on the rest of these vapid melodies. It’s naturally incinerated with “Mission,” the track most likely to be screamed out by fans who don’t realize there’s better rhyming out there than taking “best” and “rest” within one beat. But with hands waving in the air, and gelatin shots provided by the band (that’s right, they don’t pay for name-brand), you’ll feel like you’re earning that flair when all of the punches of this music land. See, rhyming is easy.

I feel like buried beneath this over-produced mess are actual musicians. None of those involved are particularly awful at reproducing already established sounds, it’s just that it’s executed without a hint of homage – opting instead to deliberately rehash better bands. There are strands of the bombastic, beer-swilling enjoyment of SNL-era The Replacements. There are hoots and hollers that call to mind The Strokes, and maybe even a splash of The White Stripes at times. But considering their beginnings – playing parking lots after more established bands got done inside the venue – they have no desire to forge their own path without ripping something off from someone who did it better.  

What’s even more baffling is the comfortability with this aesthetic. It becomes quickly apparent that Catfish has no need for credibility or resourcefulness. Instead, none of these songs contain even an ounce of validity or house any emotion. From that, it’s easy to surmise just about any correlation we damn well please. So, while it’s obvious during the first song “Longshot” that the entire concept of The Balance is based on the life and goals of Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War, Catfish and His Bottlemen decide to give us an album thankfully nowhere near as long as that movie, but sadly lacking the payoff since they don’t disappear at the end.

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