Male Bonding: Brit-Rock With a Brooklyn Bent

05/12/2010 4:10 AM |

Male Bonding
Nothing Hurts
(Sub Pop)

Man is it weird to read about young British bands, runts from the mother isle that brought us The Television Personalities, Creation Records, and NME’s C86 mix-tape, who talk of taking ramshackle pop cues from a current American underground already dripping with Anglophilia. It’s not wildly surprising though, given that the most triumphant UK records of the recent past have come from enduring 90s icons like Radiohead or Portishead, or singularly weird outliers like Micachu and Max Tundra, neither of which leave an easy blueprint to follow. For pent-up Limey kids who just want to rock, bands like No Age or the Vivian Girls probably seem pretty heroic. And so it came to be that the dingy Dalston area of London, home to many a dodgy Turkish restaurant-cum-music venue, now nurtures a thriving DIY music scene aesthetically akin to those in LA or Brooklyn. Rapidly emerging trio Male Bonding, with a Sub Pop catalog number on the side of their brash and brief debut, have a chance to become its early poster children.

The longest song on Nothing Hurts clocks in at an epic 2:45, but Male Bonding actually show some range in arranging the interiors of their tiny boxes. There’s room for breakneck pile-ups like bashing opener “Year’s Not Long,” and the sinister-mantra-plus-jangly-guitar formula of “Franklin,” which suggests that Deerhunter’s take on British rock has been reintroduced into the cultural bloodstream. They turn out to be even more interesting on quiet acoustic closer “Worse to Come,” where disconnected melody washes push modest strumming towards something more abstract. The songs want for the sort of brain-invading hooks the late Jay Reatard was so capable of supplying (not to mention his muses The Clean and the Buzzcocks), but hopefully the bubblegum oohs on “Nothing Remains” are foreshadowing sharper pop to come. Still, it’s just nice to think that the douchey blokes-bed-birds era of mediocre Arctic Monkeys/Kaiser Chiefs British rock might finally be dead or dying.