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‘All This Won’t Last Forever’: A review of Male Bonding’s Nothing Hurts

In Album Reviews, London and the UK on May 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm
Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts

Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts

There’s something very apropos about the choice of band name for Male Bonding. Their debut LP, Nothing Hurts, sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a bunch of dudes just having a real good time. And this is not to exclude the ladies out there, because it’s really just the soundtrack to people having a real good time, bonding over a common desire to bounce around with those closest to you (by proximity and/or relation). And these aren’t just punks fuckin shit up, they’ve got heart and they’ve got hooks (a-plenty). It’s high energy for sure, but creatively it’s going in the right direction. One of the best things about Male Bonding is that they combine, with great skill, punk energy and riffs, with some of that beautiful noise-pop, and most interestingly, a little bit of that Abe Vigoda (the band) ‘tropical’ guitar lines (see their jam ‘The Garden‘). Male Bonding are doing something special, as they are much more than just the sum of their parts, and I don’t think they’ll suffer from all the hype! that’s been surrounding this release lately, especially not with this many good songs so early in their burgeoning career.

I’d say that Nothing Hurts should absolutely be listened to all the way through, not because of some recurring theme or because there are no standouts (quite the opposite actually), but because it’s such a fun record and at under 30 minutes, it blazes by very very quickly. That being said, there are few tracks that are worth singling out. For me, the highlights are ‘Year’s Not Long’, ‘Weird Feelings’, ‘Franklin’, ‘Crooked Scene’, ‘Nothing Remains’, ‘Nothing Used To Hurt’, and ‘Pumpkin’. These seven songs, which is over half the thirteen-track album, are truly great songs and exemplify the variety of styles that goes into each song, and the album as a whole.
The album’s brilliant opener, ‘Year’s Not Long‘, starts off the album with a jolt of energy. It’s got a great riff and gives the listener a taste for what’s to come. A few excellent tracks go by and then we get to one of the album’s best tracks ‘Weird Feelings’ (live video below). The guitar line matching the vocals is phenomenal. This track keeps the energy high but it manages to make the more ‘punk’ parts of the song even more rewarding with verses that are slower and quieter, but only to come back loud and fast again with high energy. The last minute (of this just over 2 minute song) is especially engaging and makes me want to see them live very badly because I can imagine just how nuts the crowd would go when the distortion on the guitar comes back on and the drums pick back up with just under 30 seconds left. Then comes ‘Franklin‘ which demonstrates that Abe Vigoda sound most notably. It a slower and quieter song and with the heavier second guitar playing quietly in the background. It does have possibly the best line of the album, “all this won’t last forever,” which is repeated to great effect. Then right as this song finishes, ‘Crooked Scene’ comes in ‘guns ablaze‘. It’s one of the more obvious examples of their punk influences, but it is and becomes much more than just that. It’s got a great vocal melody and guitar line and it’s one of the most fun songs on the album.
Then two songs later we get to ‘Nothing Remains’. It’s quick but has a lot going for it. From the ‘ooooowweeoooooowww’s to the overall high energy to the instrumentation and lyrics, it’s one of my favorites on Nothing Hurts. This then leads through guitar fuzz into ‘Nothing Used To Hurt’ which at 2 minutes and 41 seconds reigns in as the longest song on the album (by 3 seconds). The guitar line on this song is the standout for me but the chorus’ vocal melody is fantastic too (and stuck in my head at the moment I am writing this). Then finally, three very good songs down the road we come to ‘Pumpkin’, which features a jumpy guitar line that alternates with the kind of raging punk riffs we’ve come to expect from Male Bonding. They insist near the end that “you take you’re time” and it feels like an earnest statement. One wishes they wouldn’t rush through such a brilliant album but then again it probably works best just the way it is. The album’s closer ‘Worse To Come’, which features the Vivian Girls, is acoustic but maintains the high caliber of songwriting we’ve seen throughout the entire record. Male Bonding are punk, but so much more. I look forward to seeing what they’re going to do from this point on, but even if it’s more of the same, I think I’d be alright.
Their upcoming shows are only in the UK, at least until early June, so if you’re in the area you should try to catch them. I can’t imagine their shows are anything but a good time.

Male Bonding Summer 2010 UK Tour Flyer

You can pick up their LP Nothing Hurts, out on Sub Pop, here, and I suggest you do.
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  1. Male Bonding interview i did a couple of weeks ago: http://wallernotweller.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/interview-male-bonding/

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