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May 10, 2010 | by  | in Music |
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Male Bonding – Nothing Hurts (Sub Pop records)

Speed. Raging, furious, speedy riffs, bent on hammering home the fact that, if nothing else, Male Bonding can slam the accelerator through the floor. This seems to be the ethos behind Nothing Hurts. Originally part of the Paradise Vendors label / circle jerk who hold onto The Slits and Husker Du viciously as talismans, this London trio’s brand of thrash-pop has been seeping into the ether via scrappily recorded 7” and cassette releases over the last two years, which has resulted in their debut LP, Nothing Hurts, coming out via the monolithic (and slightly ballsier of late) Sub Pop this week.

The most glaring step up from previous releases is obviously the recording—for a band who play fast above anything else, their garbage-can riffs don’t overwhelm like they previously have. It’s loud and fast, but no longer overbearingly so. Kevin Hendrick’s bass is a welcome addition to the realm of audibility, anchoring the ritalin highlights like the #1 party hits ‘T.U.F.F’ and ‘Crooked Scene’, and conversely lending some necessary fattening to the album’s low points, especially ‘Weird Feelings’, which attempts to get by on a decidedly pathetic hook, and Male Bonding’s halfway attempt to pull Abe Vigoda through a shoegaze-lite filter on ‘Franklin’.

The high-end guitar riffs here aim for catchy melody, but only manage to come across as screechy annoyances. While diversity is a good thing, you get the feeling that this album would have benefitted from being a straight-up punk record, instead of dabbling in the slightly more tropical guitar lines and falsetto hooks on ‘Nothing Remains’, or the all-too boring slowed-down version of ‘Paradise Vendors’. At 14 tracks, there are at least two or three which could easily be cut from the mix. However, it seems that for every feeble miss on the record, there is an equally affecting hit. Flooring it seems to be the go-to method for making Male Bonding hits, which is perfectly acceptable when they can smash out gems like album opener ‘Years Not Long’, with its hyperactive fills and blistering pace-setting.

Essentially, it’s a fun garage punk record. Lyrically, there is very little to get out of Nothing Hurts—a smattering of self-pity, enmity and desire for change here, references to their friends there—the lyrics really just exist as filling for the hooks, which are pretty abundant across the album’s 30-minute lifespan. Provided you can press skip across the more annoying numbers, Nothing Hurts easily establishes itself as a one of the most pummelingly fun records of 2010 so far.

3.5/5

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  1. agreed–fun, but kinda underwhelming…has its place in this summer, but i can’t imagine holding onto it forever. you make a really great point, comparing this release to their past releases, of which i’ve only heard rumors, and i can’t imagine this band being the same as That one.

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