Album Review: Catfish & The Bottlemen - The Ride

19 May 2016 | 3:56 pm | Paul Barbieri

"When these boys get the chance to write in tandem with Bond, the sky's the limit."

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They're the latest buzz band from the Old Blighty and with a string of summer shows lined up they're set to give Arctic Monkeys a run for their money. But do Catfish & The Bottlemen stand up?

They've got the looks, they've got the swagger, they've got news stories about communing with the ghost of Jim Morrison. They even have a whacky name taken from a famous Sydney busker. But can they walk the walk when it comes to their songs. Well, the answer is a qualified yes.

Opening with first single 7, the North Wales four-piece waste no time showing exactly what they're about, delivering an Oasis-style rocker that explodes with a crescendo of guitars at the end. However, it's here where we already see problems emerge. With founding guitarist Billy Bibby leaving the band, the boys recruited new axe-man Johnny Bond and he's seriously good. The problem appears to lie in his integration. Main man Van McCann seems to have a lot of tunes already written and they have a distinct rock-by-numbers style. But then they've allowed Bond to go mental on the bridges and conclusions and as a result the songs take major stylistic shifts that jar a wee bit. That being said, when Bond lets rip he elevates some of these tracks, like the smashing Soundcheck and inventive Anything, from good to seriously, seriously good. There are quiet moments on Glasgow and Heathrow building to a big finale with Outside, but when these boys get the chance to write in tandem with Bond, the sky's the limit.