REVIEW: Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts
By now you’ve all probably heard Male Bonding’s seminal track, “Year’s Not Long” and I wouldn’t be surprised if you were thinking if there would be the required substance for the lo-fi noise pop trio to flesh out a 16 track album. If you’ve known of the band for a while you probably have heard some of the extensive demo songs they have done other the last few years, but annoyingly a lot of those songs (probably purposefully) wore a little thin, or, due to the nature of the genre, were too similar. But “Nothing Hurts” has captured the essence of lo-fi in a way that hasn’t diminished the individual tracks, or the overall feel of the album. Detractors would argue that these recordings don’t offer the best version of any of the tracks previously demoed, and that the Dalston-based band have lost touch with their beginnings, especially by recording in some uptown American studio, however their signing to arguably “major” independent label Sub Pop has built up to this album’s creation and I for one think it is a success.
The album quite rightfully opens with the aforementioned track, as essentially, it is a primer that will, stigmatically help you decide if you like Male Bonding or not. If you do and pass that first hurdle, you will be greeted by arguably the best song on the album, “All Things This Way”, in which we’re told “nothing will change”, it’s a turbo-charged song that continues the opening track’s sense of abandon and good fun. It’s basically pretty rad. Songs that follow, like “Franklin” and album closer “Worse to Come” however strike the complete opposite tone, being pretty chill, with some lyrics that aren’t really that happy, in fact I feel the whole lyrical side of the album is quite a depressive story, taking away from the up-beat and worked up ‘roid-rage-esque songs that dominate the rest of the album. The latter song of the two though, is absolutely brilliant, it stands out immeasurably because of that different tone and is the best way to close the album.
Other highlights include the songs “Pirate Key” which you may have heard prior, a nautical noise pop romp that never fails to excite with it’s lovely drum intro and also “Nothing Remains” a song whose guitar part reminds of a metronome and has high-pitched wailing reminiscent of a lot of Wavves’ songs. Overall, I really like this album, I’m not going to say I’ve liked Male Bonding for a very long time because I haven’t, but I was incredibly excited by the prospect of this album coming out, and it hasn’t disappointed.
BONUS: Listen to this brilliant old demo that annoyingly got left out of the album:
Staring At My Problems