The Ride is the latest- and second- album from Catfish and the Bottlemen. It was released on the 27th May 2016 on Capitol Records and has achieved a worthy number 1 in the UK official charts (maaaad). In the same week they finally announced a UK arena (ARENA!!!!) tour, which visits some of the UK’s most prestigious venues, such as Wembley arena. The singles “Soundcheck”, “7” and “Twice” were dropped before album release, with other songs like “Glasgow” also being previewed before official release.
The album opens with 7, which the band have been playing since November time last year. The song is another incredible opener, but the fade in drives me crazy. I’m (clearly) not one for a fade in. I suppose it’s in there to gently build up into the song. The song is huge, you can imagine it being played during concerts and the fans going crazy.
The album is full of strong songs. “Twice” being particularly genius. Not only is it catchy, it’s something you want to sing and dance to. It’s quite ‘ballsy and has a brilliant guitar solo (like many of the songs on the album; it’s a current theme). Other songs include the comeback, if you will, single “Soundcheck” (which really reinstates just how incredible Catfish are with its guitar solos, simple lyrics and simple drumming patterns). The breakdown is quite something and Van himself refers to it as a “festival breakdown” too and you can imagine it being played at festivals. “Anything” (one of my favourites on the album), “Postpone” and “Oxygen” are also really strong, with their interesting lyrics and guitar solos. Songs like “Emily” continue the whole name theme (with “Kathleen” on their debut album, ‘The Balcony’). You can definitely see similar song structures throughout as they all seem to become quite similar at first.
The album includes two acoustic, slower songs which break up the album. “Glasgow” and “Heathrow” are beautifully written, bittersweet and help the album flow. “Heathrow” has an echoey sound, which reminds me a bit of Jake Bugg. It’s short and overwhelmingly sweet with its clear narrative.
The album ends with the formidable “Outside”. Let’s talk about it. The first thing I thought (and perhaps I shouldn’t have, as it’s always best not to look at these things with expectations) was “will it be as big as Tyrants?” The answer was, or rather is, yes. The title of the album comes from the breakdown of the song- “the ride”. I love how Van’s voice sounds. It feels as though Van’s having a conversation with us as a listener… and then there’s ‘the end’- or rather lack of it. It cuts off. Just… Cuts… Off… I suppose, and by the end of the record I’d realised, it completely contrasts the beginning of the album with it’s pompous fade in. It leaves the listener wanting and craving more. I love it.
I feel that the stronger songs on the album are all at the start and I hope it won’t become a “sticky start” record (whereby you almost get stuck at the start). Will it be as big as The Balcony, like Van Promised? I think only time will tell. It’s definitely a grower and after a few listens it’s something you begin to love deeply. It’s quite fabulous. Given time I think the album will become something quite special and I look forward to hearing the band play and tour with it live. The best songs on the album, I think, are “Outside”, “Twice”, “Soundcheck” and “Anything”. You can see Catfish and the Bottlemen across many festivals in the UK, like Glastonbury and Truck Festival, and on tour in November throughout arenas nationally.