Male Bonding: Nothing Hurts

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Male Bonding
Nothing Hurts
(Sub Pop)

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For the past decade or so it seems as if the punk label has been slapped onto any band that churns out a fair amount of distortion or just plays a bunch of power chords with relative fervor.

Enter Male Bonding, an English trio that interestingly has a very distinct, Brooklyn sound. With their first full-length album, Nothing Hurts, the reverb, the contrived unaffected conceit, and lack of vocal pitch, are all there. Although it seems to conform to everything else currently out there calling itself “punk,” that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad album.

Hands down, the best track on the album is “T.U.F.F.,” because it actually sounds tough, with its great attitude, sweet riffs, and the only song in which lead singer John Arthur Webb drops the deadpan vocals and sings with some real feeling. The next track, “Nothing Remains,” comes in a close second, if only for the somewhat annoying little arpeggio that flickers throughout the track.

As for the rest of the album, it unfortunately blends together; it’s just more fuzz and blandness. Many songs, such as “Pumpkin,” start out strong and then devolve into indie-pop self-reflections of languor. The album’s real heel though is Webb’s voice; it’s soulless and artificial, everything that punk rock is supposed to rail against.

All in all it’s not a bad romp, and maybe what makes me feel the way I do is that I hear the potential for something good, but through too much manufactured disinterest, it just falls short.

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