Monday, August 29, 2011

REVIEW: Male Bonding -- Endless Now

Tomorrow SubPop is releasing Endless Now, the second album by London three-piece punk outfit Male Bonding. It’s been available via stream for the past few weeks, and has drawn some mixed responses from the reviewerati. Some are breathlessly heralding it as a towering punk-pop triumph, using words like Husker and Dinosaur. Others are calling it predictable and samey. One went so far as to use the word “inarticulacy”. Yes, apparently such a word exists, and there is at least one writer who thinks that it can be employed to describe another’s being inarticulate without any irony at all.

Well, I am here, in a cloak of humility, to resolve this question once and for all. Endless Now is an extremely good, and maybe a great album – one of my favorites I’ve heard this year. Its songs crackle with that perfect blend of pop goodness and punk crash. And although I make no secret of loving a bunch of yelling and screaming, the vocals and harmonies of songwriter/guitarist John Arthur Webb and bassist Kevin Hendrick are the antithesis of that. They float blithely above the noisy fray, as if Brian Wilson were subbing for Lee Ving (okay, maybe a bit of a stretch). Still, listen to the bass intro of the first track, “Tame the Sun”, and then when the rest of the band explodes into the song, see if you can resist headbutting your dog.

I listed Male Bonding’s first album, Nothing Hurts, among my favorites of 2010. In an earlier post I rhapsodized, being the wordsmith that I am, about the band’s “freaking great drummer”, Robin Silas Christian. As on the earlier album Christian’s manic banging is given its proper, prominent place in the recording mix, and, it would appear from this video of “Before It’s Gone”, one of my favorite of the new songs, in the live mix as well.

You can stream the entire album at, but you’d be better off if you just went ahead and bought it.

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