Monday, May 10, 2010

Album: Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts

Nothing Hurts (Male Bonding)
Album: Nothing Hurts
Subpop, 2010
Rating: ******** (8/10)

I've been waiting for this album for a long time now, and it's finally here! (Well, tomorrow it is.) Male Bonding are a noise-punk/noise-pop band from the UK who I heard in the middle of the night at CMJ. From the first time I listened to their dang myspace page, I got the sense this is a band of great potential and nothing I've seen since has called that into question.

Nothing Hurts is maybe not quite everything I hoped it would be, but it is above all, a bullshit-free record. It doesn't deal with slow intros and non-song filler. Each track, without a second pause, launches into a speedy guitar blast, cymbals crashing all over the place.

While Male Bonding aren't exactly breaking the mold, they aren't quite like anyone else - too giddy for grunge, too complex for hardcore, too aggressive for pop. Scored, the guitar lines echo some of the best jumpy, distorted walls of sound of the 90's - everything from Jawbreaker to Nirvana to Smashing Pumpkins. However, the intentionally soup and reverb-heavy production is clearly contemporary, as are the earthy vocal melodies. If you follow bands like these, imagine a more straight-forward No Age, more sloppy Jeff the Brotherhood or more sophisticated Wavves.

Although parts of the album could certainly be faulted for being "samey," there are a few that stand out. "Franklin" is far darker and sadder than the surrounding tracks, while "T.U.F.F." shows an angular, metal-influenced side of the band. "Nothing Used to Hurt" starts in a deep buzzing drone of guitar (again, think No Age), then opens into a quick, looping riff and even quicker, briefly minor-key chorus.

Opening tracks "Years Not Long" and "All Things This Way" are easily among the album's best, with melodies that immediately prove Male Bonding are not just the next band in the lo-fi revival - they have something special. For sheer, jubilant energy, though, the album doesn't peak until its second-to-last track, "Pumpkin," with the sort of leaping bass line that makes me jump around my room/the subway platform/the subway car/the middle of the street...yeah, I'm a dork. But you knew that, because I have a blog.

Male Bonding aren't dorks, though. They are just plain awesome. Buy their album. [myspace]

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