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Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts

  by Paul Waller

published: 29 / 5 / 2010

Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts
Label: Sub Pop
Format: CD


Punchy and gloriously noisy debut album from trashy, but vibrant London-based trio, Male Bonding

Male Bonding are on the verge of exploding out of their mega-hip but ultra saturated Shoreditch scene in East London. They have an insulated cliquey history but with ‘Nothing Hurts’ things are about to change. Over the past year the trio have released a couple of noisy lo-fi singles, all of which sold old almost immediately. This coupled with a few high profile support slots where they have blown the likes of HEALTH off the stage and the group were bound to attract high profile labels, They opted for the legendary Sub Pop. Next step then is the album, What would you do? Do you continue the ramshackle DIY approach or employ a high ranking producer to add a little sheen to the mayhemic din? Well, with Male Bonding the answer is neither. Gone is the tinny sound that for me marred their early splits with Dum Dum Girls and Pens and in its place is a huge wall of rock that for the instruments at least is crystal clear and full of punch. This is as close to a live sound as I have ever heard on record. It’s a wonderful noise when blasting out of a decent pair of speakers. Yet the band clings onto its lo-fi past. The vocals from both John Webb and Kevin Hendick are airy and buried in the mix. It’s very My Bloody Valentine in places, a new wave of grunge shoegaze anyone? I didn’t think so. This could have gone oh so wrong but the songs are so strong that with its short running time for once I find myself wanting more after the album had finished. It’s a rare treat. In my opinion bands should be forced to keep their albums around the half hour mark. Essentially what Male Bonding have done is cut out the chaff and condensed the formula of having an album with no filler at all. Each song is as good as the last and the bar is raised high. The No Age comparisons that get banded about with this group are pretty accurate but Male Bonding have far more hooks going down per capita than their American cousins. Whilst the likes of 'Tuff' and 'Paradise Vendors' would not sound out of place on Nirvana’s ‘Incesticide’ LP other tracks like 'Years Not Long', 'Pumpkin' and 'Weird Feelings' hold an extra vibrancy that makes them too special to be trivially compared with others by a petty music hack like myself. The only thing left to say is that I truly hope Male Bonding stick to their guns with their non-production style and do not get too glossy and slick on their next album. They may sound trashy but it is this elegant trash that makes them so damn awesome.

Track Listing:-
1 Year's Not Long
2 All Things This Way
3 Your Contact
4 Weird Feelings
5 Franklin
6 Crooked Scene
7 T.U.F.F.
8 Nothing Remains
9 Nothing Used To Hurt
10 Pirate Key
11 Paradise Vendors
12 Pumpkin
13 Worse To Come

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