Friday, May 14

Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts

. Friday, May 14

The relationship between low and high fidelity music is growing ever more complicated. Not that long ago bands were distorting their music to a near-unlistenable fuzz or, as in many cases, making the best of their home recordings. Now we have bands going all out to shed their scuzzy skins and make like proper pop stars. Pop stars with a working knowledge of Dalston and Captured Tracks on speed dial though, obviously.

Signing to Sub Pop suits Male Bonding. Their recordings have gone from being low quality to a higher definition without losing any of their charm or bite. The guitars still slice, the percussion still snarls and the bass rumbles like a rudely awoken grizzly bear only now it all shines brighter than ever. By describing themselves as 'Tinnitus with a hook', Male Bonding seem to have encapsulated their entire sound in one snappy line, maybe if the whole punk things goes awry they could be journalists. 'Nothing Hurts' leans more to the side of hook than tinnitus with its smash and grab attitude prevailing throughout. Barely a song goes by that lasts over two minutes giving the listener scant opportunity to become bored or distracted before the next bout of double quick punches and early 90's fuzz come flying toward their face.

From album opener 'Year's Not Long' right through to the closing moments of Vivian Girls duet 'Worse To Come' Male Bonding display a positively ADD style of song writing. Be it 'Crooked Scene's snotty thrash or the skittering 'Pumpkin', (a song you suspect could rally an army under the right conditions), there is no let up. 'Nothing Hurts' might be the message but real pain exists between these short, sharp shocks. Be it 'Fraklin's haunted, reverb heavy calls of “This won't last forever” which sound as if they are being called out by a small boy stuck at the bottom of a well all the way to how these seemingly upbeat songs are underscored by a sense of melancholy, one thought prevails: Male Bonding are deeper than they like to make out.

There will not be many more instantly gratifying albums than 'Nothing Hurts' this year. Don't be fooled by the title either, they might puff out their chests as the antithesis to REM but sometimes the essence of Male Bonding is nothing more than a big, manly high five.


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