written by Chris Familton
London’s Male Bonding generated a fair amount of buzz with their 2010 debut Nothing Hurts and it sat well alongside the similar noise pop of other bands like Wavves. The second album dilemma that faced them was whether to bash out another set of short, sharp songs or go for something different. It turns out that familiarity was too much of a temptation as they pretty much stick to the same template on Endless Now.
The band has pushed the envelope slightly with a bit more urgency overall in the songs but they haven’t loosened the reins and relaxed their playing which would have made for a more visceral listen. Instead the songs are finished before you have a chance to sink your teeth into them. They fizz and sprint along but once they are gone there is no residue, no lingering hooks or melodies to draw you back for another listen. Sonically the guitars blur and blend too much on the faster songs when they should be creating the structure and architecture of them, especially with this type of music.
Nothing Hurts had a shoegaze smear across many of the songs and here they’ve shed that element for the most part. On The Saddle they dispense with rock dynamics completely and pen a tender and acoustic song that is one of the more memorable moments on the record. Elsewhere, Before It’s Gone digs a nice hole with the vocals weaving an interesting path and the guitar likewise creating interesting shapes. It sounds like an early Lemonheads track with an English twist yet unfortunately it serves to highlight much of the weakness of the rest of the album. Boredom and slacker aesthetics can sound a lot more exciting than this and Male Bonding fall well short of expectations on this sophomore effort.
this review first appeared in The Drum Media