Catfish and the Bottlemen

The Balance

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Some bands change and grow with each record. That's not the case with Catfish and the Bottlemen. Although they chose to work with a new producer for The Balance -- that'd be Jacknife Lee, who previously helmed albums for R.E.M., U2, and the Killers -- they don't expand their horizons, preferring to stick to the hyper-charged British indie they minted with their 2014 debut, The Balcony. Catfish and the Bottlemen remain indebted to U.K. rock from the early 2000s, particularly Arctic Monkeys, and if Van McCann doesn't possess the wit of Alex Turner, there nevertheless are charms to how he and his band adhere to the straight and narrow. Catfish and the Bottlemen can raise a ruckus, and Lee knows how to sharpen this sound so it can draw blood. He also can smooth some of their sharper edges so the more melodic numbers seem like they could fill an arena, a move that may underscore how the group is just slightly old-fashioned -- there just aren't that many rock bands who play on such a large scale in 2019 -- yet there's no denying that this is a tight, frills-free execution of Catfish and the Bottlemen's essence.

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