Douglas Martin recommends that you check out Male Bonding. He does not recommend Google Image searching for “Male Bonding.”
Male Bonding don’t like to waste time. Maybe it’s a by-product of emerging from London’s DIY-punk scene. Maybe it’s the Buzzcocks influence. Maybe it’s from playing with like-minded bands as Lovvers, Vivian Girls, and Mika Miko. Whatever the deal is, the Dalston-based trio uses Nothing Hurts, their promising debut record, as a vessel to get to the fucking point and get to it fast. Lead single “Year’s Not Long” is a galloping, thrashy hook-fest that sounds like one of the members just remembered their oven was still on right before pressing the ‘record’ button.
Making their instruments thwack and wail over an introverted high tenor like the kids down the street banging out Dinosaur Jr. tunes in their parents’ garage, there is a gleefully amateurish resonance that permeates throughout. At a staggering 2:41, both “Franklin” and “Nothing Used to Hurt” stand out; the former sounding sharing the same heavily reverbed thump as Abe Vigoda, while the latter is baptized in guitar noise for the entire first minute of the song, recalling the fantasy scenario of Sonic Youth covering a No Age tune. Right at the point where the songs are running the risk of bleeding into each other, the acoustic closer “Worse to Come” delivers a tender ballad– “ballad” in this case meaning “a song that is not 195 BPM”– featuring the angelic harmonies of the aforementioned Vivian Girls, bookended with clanging distortion and a four-bar outro that ends with the lyrics “keep her away from me”.
With thirteen songs in a scant 28 minutes, brevity is the strong suit of Nothing Hurts, a collection of songs whose energy perfectly underscores the fuck-all glory of the basement shows the band has sprung from. Oh shit. I think I left my oven on.