“I think a little bomb will go off in the music industry, and people will go, ‘Who’s making all that racket?’” That’s Catfish frontman Van McCann speaking to NME earlier this year, discussing material the Llandudno quartet are preparing for their new album. Apparently it’s “miles better” than 2014’s ‘The Balcony’.
His “little bomb” description is pretty accurate – as soon as you think the inroads made on new track ‘7’ are limited to sleet-swept, moody territory, Van McCann gives an unexpectedly sharp, explosive ‘Wooh’ two minutes in that lays the groundwork for a bleakly propulsive guitar solo from Johnny Bond.
The reverb here makes quite a change from the taut sounds of Catfish’s debut LP. So does McCann’s voice, which is possibly at its most gravelly and ragged yet – perhaps due to the unrelenting tour schedule Catfish have had to deal with over the past two months. This track is louder, looser, and more consistently surprising than anything the four-piece have produced before.
That’s thanks to a meandering verse vocal that refuses to hold your hand, wandering instead into the nebulous haze of guitar and bass that permeates the track. The effect’s topped off by a heartfelt chorus that sounds like it genuinely hits McCann straight in the gut.
Its monochrome solemnity places it somewhere on the spectrum that lies between Stereophonics and last year’s Ben Howard LP; if that’s a reflection of the remainder of Catfish’s upcoming second full-length, it’s not easy to see how the rest of the album can match the explosiveness of that “little bomb” description – but then again, it wouldn’t be the first time these lads have surprised us.