Male Bonding / Endless Now / Sub Pop
Contrary to belief, men – whether they carry axes or rarely flinch to be romantic – will always be shy. It’s in our nature, it always will be and it can’t be prevented. If a girl with gorgeous looks stares us down and sensually bites her lip (not one of those nonsensical Cosmopolitan moves), our testosterone surrenders and calls it day. When such a barrier is down, men, especially those of an artistic nature, feel the urge to speak out and Male Bonding’s sophomore blast Endless Now favors that theme. With the beach pop “oohs” and “ahhs” and retro personas the guitars take on, it’d be safe to throw the Sub Pop release into the running for the official soundtrack for the next Wet Hot American Summer flick but producer John Agnello has influenced vocalists John Arthur Webb and Kevin Hendrick to be much more conscientious and mindful that angst and pity don’t need to be thrown into someone’s face as negative. Endless Now is a pop record, and as the 12 tracks explain, it’s a sturdy pop record.
There’s breaks of old-school skate punk (“Seems To Notice Now”), party on, Wayne-riffage (“What’s That Scene?”) and handclap beats (“Dig You Out”) that never seem to lose momentum. The misery Webb and Hendrick can’t shake off their voices does make the whole thing burn out too quickly – especially when they both blaze at the beginning of the album without shame. That excess baggage carried over from Nothing Hurts may be a lingering feeling Male Bonding can’t seem to get rid of, especially considering their humble makeup shows charisma (“Can’t Dream”), but it’s a leech that needs to die. If you were to accept the music as a whole with open arms and a brochure college kid’s smile, it wouldn’t be so heartbreaking to get over. In all honesty, Endless Now is a loner’s jam; it’s definitely not lo-fi, does touch on punk and doesn’t resist being angsty and happily content. Even though it would be intriguing to see Male Bonding break out of their bubble, you can’t help but sing “nothing’s right”.
Download: “Bones”, “Seems To Notice Now”
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