Male Bonding: NOTHING HURTS

Posted 12/08/2010 by cal

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Male Bonding is not a punk rock band, but it scratches a similar itch.  There’s the belligerent abrasiveness, the grinning irreverence, the downtrodden resilience, and most importantly, the fast and loud guitar.  But then there’s all that echo and static and the feeble vocals that make Nothing Hurts, the London group's debut full-length, decidedly indie rock.  It’s tough to glean much from Kevin Hendrick’s singing, and the trendy muddy production is mildly annoying, but the songs are so good that this still ends up being a great album.

If you took away all the forced sonic interference and added some strong vocal melodies, you might have a mini-masterpiece, but you also might have something that sounds straight out of the 60s.  The songs are filled with a sort of distorted exuberance, a projected innocence you can’t quite believe, shades of the British Invasion.  “Weird Feelings” might be a tribute to “Please Please Me”, a reminder that The Beatles were practically punk in the early days.  And album-closer "Worse To Come" (with help from Vivian Girls) gets into some sunny psychedelia that The Zombies might've dug.

But there's just as much grunge influence as old-school garage pop.  “Nothing Remains” is total Vaselines-via-Cobain (with a strong Dave Clark Five jones), and the album is riddled with Nirvanaesque guitar tone and melody.  “T.U.F.F.” might’ve been a Bleach outtake with its grinding guitar attack and insistent quasi-bubblegum hook, and “Paradise Vendors” sounds like a simplified “Aneurysm” filtered through shitgaze amps.  Overall, the riffs are fresh and furious and frequently catchy, enough to forget what's missing and look forward to what's in store once the band wants to really be heard.

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