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Catfish and The Bottlemen | The Balance

The Welsh retro-rockers' third album dishes up more meat-and-potatoes fare.

The minimalist black-and-white cover art. The 11-song set list. The two-word album title. The one-word song titles. The three-minute indie-rock nuggets. The album that lasts between 35 and 40 minutes. Just looking at The Balance, the third album from Welsh guitar-rock revivalists Catfish and The Bottlemen, you might think: Haven’t we been here before? And the answer is: Abso-freaking-lutely. If you’ve heard either of the band’s previous efforts, you know exactly what you’re in for with this threepeat. And that’s probably no accident. After all, excellently named frontman Van McCann supposedly claimed he actually planned out the band’s first three albums back in 2014. Even if he was joking about that — and I kind of think he must have been — he didn’t do himself any favours when he defended their last album The Ride by saying, “I feel like everybody started thinking too outside the box trying to be arty and different. We wanted to stay inside the box.” Ouch. Still, it does help explain why the band seem so intent on sticking to their guns once again. And let’s face it: They’re hardly the first band that declined to fix something that wasn’t broken. So ultimately, how you feel about The Balance will likely depend on your tolerance for their particular brand of meat-and-potatoes indie-rock. To be fair, it is not unsatisfying. This 35-minute set is jammed with arena-rock singles constructed from monstrous riffs, razor-wire hooks, thundering beats and singalong choruses. Honestly, in an era dominated by interchangeable pop starlets and here-today-gone-later-today rappers, it’s hard to complain too long and hard about a rock band that unabashedly plays to its strengths, even if they are somewhat limited. Granted, the album doesn’t break any new sonic or stylistic ground. Nor does it offer anything in the way of artistic innovation or experimentation. Even so, on balance, Catfish and The Bottlemen could have done a lot worse.