Album Review: The Ride by Catfish & The Bottlemen

Catfish & The Bottlemen’s highly anticipated sophomore record The Ride, that came out Friday, has been garnering rave reviews from critics and fans alike.

PC: Radio X
PC: Radio X

The UK rock group relies on fundamental aspects of rock music while also taking inspiration from bands such as The Beatles and Oasis.

Since the release of The Balcony in 2014, the band have been a crowd favorite at music festivals across the globe from Glastonbury to Lollapalooza and received a BRIT Award back in February for British Breakthrough Artist.

The Ride approaches Catfish & The Bottlemen’s music as a new way to showcase some of its style changes while still sticking to its origins, but adding catchier toe-tapping rhythms and expanding their guitar skills on almost every track.

Track-by-track review:

“Twice” – This song showcases true Catfish & The Bottlemen fashion with lots of kick drums and breaks with an energetic entrance to the chorus. There’s a breakdown toward the end of the song, which kind of confused me because I wasn’t expecting it to slow down from the fast tempo it was already at. Because of this, I think it’s an interesting production but I’m not sure it works properly. 6/10.

“Anything” – The track begins with a kick drum intro and soft guitar which makes a smooth transition into the first chorus and follows through the rest of the song. The theme of “Anything” is about the desire to be there for a significant other, “Anything you need at anytime at all/ I want you to phone me.” This song is a step up from “Twice” but I still don’t think it’s anything special because the production of the song musically bored me. 7/10.

“Emily” – “Emily” starts with catchy guitar in the background of the first and second verses. Front man Van McCann croons about his status with the girl named Emily with lyrics such as “To pick me up out of/The company I run with/Emily just phoned for me to smoke with her/And on her furniture/Discuss how love has been.” This is a solid song about questioning a relationship with someone. I’m sure every female fan wishes they were the Emily being sung about. 9/10.

Soundcheck” – With this being the first single that was released from the album, it encompasses what The Ride is trying to accomplish musically and lyrically about racing through a soundcheck to meet up with a girl. With McCann singing from the first second to the three sentence chorus to a quiet breakdown in the middle while he sings softly before ending the track with a solid finish. It was a good move, in my opinion, for the band to make this the first single. 9/10.

“Postpone” – This track offers an interesting combination of drums and guitar that seem to feed off each other throughout the entire song. However, the real beauty of this track is the lyrical content within it. The first verse which reads “Postpone it/Tell them life’s got you/Take time off/Tell them ‘all work does is bides you a year’” listeners can see the message that the band are trying to convey about life. “Postpone” shows the lyrical growth of the band and it allows listeners to interpret and dig deeper into the song itself. 8/10.

“7” – On “7,” the guitar and drums fade into a tasteful beginning before being accompanied by McCann’s vocals about fifteen seconds in. “7” takes a break from the reliance of heavy electric guitar riffs and settles for only an acoustic in the chorus and an electric in the background. It’s a song that you sway back and forth and sing along to with your mates. 9/10.

“Glasgow” – An acoustic gem that is partnered with McCann’s breathy, faded vocals about a romance set in Glasgow where they encountered “falling in drunk” and making McCann “do the shit I never do.” This song reminds of The Balcony’s “Hourglass.” 8/10.

“Oxygen” – This track is hands down the best song on the album about (what I’m assuming is) a toxic girl. The jarring electric guitar from the first second grabs the listener’s attention, the toe-tapping rhythm of the drums and McCann’s rockiest vocals are what make “Oxygen” the strongest track on The Ride. 10/10.

“Outside” – Fun fact: This song is how the album got it’s name The Ride. In a letter to fans, Van McCann revealed that the lyric “I just came along for The Ride/ And I tried my best to keep away from you” is how the band got the name. In “Outside” it’s easier to hear the lyrics without the drowning of guitars. For that sole reason, it’s another one of my favorites. 8/10.

“Red” – This track starts out a little slow but then brings an infectious hook of McCann singing “Can he do what I did for you?” that’s easy for fans to recite and remember the song. The hook then brings the listener into a head banging pre-chorus and is accompanied by a plethora of drums. “Red” is a fantastic combination of the band’s musical ability and it really shows on this song. 9/10.

“Heathrow” – Another acoustic song about loving a girl and helping her whenever she needs him. The lyrical content isn’t that new because it’s just another “Glasgow” in my mind (It might even be about the same girl). But, I loved the style of the acoustic and simple electric guitar in the background. The song fades out in what seems to be an eerie guitar ending which I thought was a cool, appropriate way to end the song. 8.5/10.

At first, listening to this album I was a little frustrated that Catfish & The Bottlemen didn’t push their musical style further. Most of the songs, I thought, sounded too much like The Balcony and used the same musical formula, playing it safe. But then I realized that this was an appropriate sophomore release and they did, in fact, push their style further, I just didn’t realize it until after a few listens.

Keeping the band’s infectious guitar solos while writing shorter choruses allowed for the emphasis on the music to be prominent. Catfish & The Bottlemen prove to the world on The Ride that they are the newest rock sensations to hit the airwaves. Even if you haven’t listened to the band before, with the release of The Ride, I’m sure it won’t be long until you do.

9/10.

The Ride streaming exclusively on Apple Music, but fans can expect the album to hit other streaming platforms like Spotify on June 10. Until then, you can stream the band’s debut record The Balcony below.

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