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CATFISH + THE BOTTLEMEN by Jill Furmanovsky April 2016

Catfish and the Bottlemen – Fluctuate

Catfish and the Bottlemen have swiftly followed up on the announcement of their upcoming third album ‘The Balance’ with a second single in ‘Fluctuate’. 

After the general limpness of the first single ‘Longshot’ (feel free to go back and read the review on that one), you’d have to think that Catfish would have something at least a little bit better up their sleeve. Luckily for them, ‘Fluctuate’ is a marked improvement.

One of my biggest complaints, and there were quite a few, with ‘Longshot’ was its total lack of passion. ‘Fluctuate’ is far more towards the right end of the spectrum on that front. The choruses become a wall of noise and Van McCann’s voice sounds completely different to the disinterested drone we heard just a few weeks ago. There’s some grit about it which comes across really well.

Instrumentally there’s a decent improvement as well, with a really nice mix of guitar tones spread across the track to keep it as dynamic as possible. Catfish’s old bass-led first verse trick is starting to get a little bit tedious now though, as it crops up yet again on ‘Fluctuate’. 

They’ve got their own instantly recognisable sound through McCann’s vocals and consistent guitar aesthetics, so there’s no need to keep churning out exactly the same song structures over and over. In addition, as if anything else could be expected, it’s another track about some kind of relationship with a girl. No change there then.

Fluctuate’ is solid enough as a single, and a hell of a lot better than the previous release, but it’s just more of the same again. Catfish will be 33 tracks deep into their career once ‘The Balance’ drops, and we just haven’t seen any sort of progression at all. Every song so far has hit the same note and drawn on the same themes. 

Maybe they’re hiding some sort of breakthrough away in the back of ‘The Balance’; we shall see.