A veer back towards indie rock today with Welsh 4-piece Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Now, there’s two things to point out before we get down to the song itself. The first is that Zane Lowe is a big fan of these guys which, depending on your opinion of him, is either a glowing endorsement or a chronic kiss of death. And secondly, the NME aren’t particularly enamoured with them – which is an equally polarising seal of disdain/approval.
Personally, I’ve tended to find that the NME prefers a reviewing style based mostly on image and what’s cool at the time rather than looking at the melodic/lyrical substance behind the artists they so readily cast judgement upon. And as half of the bands that I liked while I was growing up were typically lambasted and ridiculed by the magazine, I’ll take their views with a vat-load of salt.
In this case, their big complaint is that the Catfish sound is “about nine years dated”, which seems especially harsh considering they were happy to laud the more sixties-inspired aspects of Britpop and the recent 80s electronica revival but hey ho, I guess they’re happy to be selective about who should sound “original” and who’s allowed to be a bit retro…
Anyhow, back to the song. This is Fallout, taken from the 2014 album The Balcony and it’s really quite good. Yes, the NME’s right that it’s harking back to the sounds of the mid 2000s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – and it’s well executed enough to detract any accusations of lazy plagiarism or lack of imagination. There’s kind of a bit of The Courteneers going on here at times, combined with a sort of Strokes/Killers-lite melody and a vocal performance that sounds a little like early-era Bono spliced with The Bravery.
The result is a stirring tune that wouldn’t be out of place as an early-in-the-evening crowd pleaser in a Saturday night indie club – the type of tune that comes alongside the Cure and alt-J and which provides a good backdrop for some flirty dancing. Before everyone gets wasted and starts jumping around to Chelsea Dagger and Take Me Out, of course.
Sure this isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but I think it’s a pretty good take on a recent genre style. And while I’d not go as far as Zane Lowe and say they’re one of the hottest new acts around (especially as the rest of the album gets a bit sketchy in places), I do like this particular song and I’ve happily had showing up it on my playlist for the past week or so.