It’s been a long, long while since a Sub Pop band has managed to raise anything that could be considered "interest" in me, and before I played this sophomore (my English friends are probably wanting to batter me for using that word) long-player, I had no idea what was awaiting me.
So, after many years I now have a new favourite Sub Pop band. In fact, I now have a Sub Pop band that I like, which is something I've not been able to say for a while. Nothing against Seattle’s finest label, but it’s not really put out much to grab my interest in recent years.
Male Bonding hail from London, UK. To be more precise, they come from Dalston, which according to Wikipedia is part of the Borough of Hackney. With geographical pointers over with, musically Male Bonding produce a sound that over the course of the album raises a number of reference points. First and foremost must be an indie rock sound along the lines of Dinosaur Jr., with a fuzzy sound forming the main part of what drives all of the songs along. However, it doesn't end there as I’m frequently hearing elements that bring to mind the UK indie scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s—not a genre I’m totally au fait with, but maybe a kind of Stone Roses/Charlatans kind of vibe. Add to that a bit of the Posies and, more incongruously, After the Fact-era M.I.A., Male Bonding seem to be coming at me with quite a varied background to their music.
Most of the songs are upbeat with a poppy yet punky quality to them, but the overarching element to everything here is that each track is drenched with melody to ensure that the listener is caught up in a sugar rush of sound, impossible to ignore.
This is a sublime collection of music that demands to be listened to without being up in your face. It’s not possible to find a dud track here, and although all the songs are good, you have to go a long way to find anything better than the fourth track, “Bones”, which clocks in at just a shade under six-and-a-half minutes. This is the song which brings to mind M.I.A. although more in a vocal context than in the music.
I notice these guys are playing Exeter in a few weeks, but on a night which is not conducive for a trek up the A38 unfortunately. I can only hope that I get a chance to see them live at some stage as I reckon they could put on quite a show.