"Nothing Hurts." Male Bonding. Hailing from London, noise-pop trio Male Bonding plays the same sort of fuzzy garage-punk as sun-baked relatives Wavves and Times New Viking here in the States.
But where both of those acts bury most of their hooks under layers of distortion from lack of production values, Male Bonding's melodic flourishes bleed through the abrasive edges -- without detracting from the band's propulsive energy.
On their debut LP, "Nothing Hurts," the trio gallops out of the gates with pogo-inducing "Year Not Long." They outdo themselves by the next track, the blink-and-it's-over hook-fest "All Things This Way."
From start to finish, the frenetic energy and whiplash pace of "Nothing Hurts" whirls by so quickly in its abandon that it's easy to miss the finer points.
At times suggesting a combination of '90s indie rock, shoe-gazing noise and early '80s punk, these 13 sugar-rushed tracks pack loads of sinewy riffs, loaded bass lines and snap 'n' bash drums behind some pretty deft pop sensibilities.
Sure, this stuff is a blast to listen to -- and likely kills in a live setting -- but "Nothing Hurts" also wedges itself in your head and forces repeated listens with such fervor that it may mirror substance abuse.
Moving from the slam-bang post-punk flail of "T.U.F.F." to the chiming power-pop of "Weird Feelings," "Nothing Hurts" rarely hits a false note. The album only falters on slower numbers like "Franklin" and the acoustic closer "Worse to Come." Both are fine enough songs (and do serve as sort of needed breathers), but they somewhat detract from the velocity the album achieves in its more bracing moments. But that's really just nit-picking.
What "Nothing Hurts" strives for is to be a pop-inclined punk-rock pleaser, heavy on guitar racket and gonzo drumming, going by so fast that you barely realize you just listened to one of the best albums released this year.