Today’s Song: “Homesick” – Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Our Rating

“Homesick” by Catfish and the Bottlemen is easily among the top ten rock songs to come out of 2014, showcasing key understandings of dynamics, spacing and evocative songwriting. The album opener on the Welsh outfit’s debut starts softly, with a quaint guitar line that plays in tandem with frontman Van McCann’s clear, cascading vocals. McCann spares no time in setting the scene: As the primary voice in the starting sequence, his evocative lyrics establish themselves as a primary focus. The song’s first verse alludes to breakup and wrongdoing as the story begins:

I got misled, mistook, discard / Anything that I said
See I’m not the type to call you up drunk / But I got some lies to tell
She hates her work but loves to flirt / It’s a shame she don’t work with me
She gets uptight, don’t like when I’m gone / But she won’t let on to me

The music builds throughout these stanzas, gaining shape as the vocals and that lone guitar guitar, played by Johnny ‘Bondy’ Bond, are joined by bandmate Benji Blakeway’s tasteful bass licks and Bob Hall’s drums. The verse ends with a break: Upon the guitar line finding a melodic resolution, silence falls hard.

The chorus then explodes into being with an unforeseen energy: Distorted guitars fill the aural voids behind McCann’s distressed voice, itself reminiscent of early 2000s-era Julian Casablancas on The Strokes’ Is This It?

I said, “I’m only looking out for you”
She said, “It’s obvious that’s a lie”
“But I only ever put out for you,
You know it’s obvious you don’t try”

A narrator at fault? Yet the narrator is retelling the story. The description of the protagonist’s girl, whomever she may be, perfectly contrasts with the chorus’ strife. The deeper the song goes, the clearer it becomes that McCann is ever so slightly touching upon deeper issues – yet the lyrics are vague enough to apply to any number of situations.

The song continues strong into the second verse, and the ensuing chorus, never dying down to that initial energy level until the end. The constant and rising power in the music is paralleled by the lyrics’ descriptions of an increasingly faulty relationship. This combination bolsters the song to new heights, helping to make the the story convincing as well as relatable.

“Homesick” presents rock at its core, basic principles: Affective dynamics, lyrics, vocals shifts and melodies. You never quite know what to believe until McCann ends where he began, reminding his audience that this song and its story are all in the past: “I got misled, mistook, discard / Anything that I said / See I’m not the type to call you up drunk / But I got some lies to tell

Listen: “Homesick” (EP version) – Catfish and the Bottlemen

The song continues strong into the second verse, and the ensuing chorus, never dying down to that initial energy level until the end. The constant and rising power in the music is paralleled by the lyrics’ descriptions of an increasingly faulty relationship. This combination bolsters the song to new heights, helping to make the the story convincing as well as relatable.

“Homesick” presents rock at its core, basic principles: Affective dynamics, lyrics, vocals shifts and melodies. You never quite know what to believe until McCann ends where he began, reminding his audience that this song and its story are all in the past: “I got misled, mistook, discard / Anything that I said / See I’m not the type to call you up drunk / But I got some lies to tell

For a song of such undeniable character, charm and strength, it’s no wonder that Catfish and the Bottlemen chose to open their album debut with “Homesick.” 

*Note that the album version of “Homesick” is currently unavailable for streaming; to purchase the track on iTunes, follow this link to Catfish and the Bottlemen’s album: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-balcony/id935517877


Catfish and the Bottlemen

The Breakdown

Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com