Few UK acts sign with the illustrious Sub Pop label, but London three-piece Male Bonding buck that trend and it's fairly easy to see why. A garage-punk record at heart, there are nevertheless quite discernible grunge overtones to Nothing Hurts. From the poppy but dirty strains of "All Things This Way" to the feedback squawks and clattering repeats of the Nirvana-esque "T.U.F.F", a certain affinity makes itself clear despite the best efforts of some percussive cowbells in the latter.
Male Bonding's bread and butter however is fuzzy, slacking punk-rock, and in their brief 30 minutes, where no track lasts longer than 2:45, there is little-to-no pretence. Their quick-fire catalogue is open and summery, though John Webb's apathetic and disinterested vocal draws it languidly toward the dark.
The rattling, speedy punk of the opener "Year's Not Long" sets the tone with echoing, rough n' ready garage symptomatic of today's zeitgeist. Yet, it's not in the same league as the distant sounding, tumbling, melodic jangle of "Franklin", which comes with curious, seeming underwater production. And, it really surfs an early 90s sort of wave as a result, coming off like a fuzz-free Dinosaur Jr demo, which due to its curt length leaves you wanting decidedly more.
"Weird Feelings" goes for and hits Vampire Weekend "Mansford Roof" riffs and pits them successfully against growling grunge guitar. The spiky, urgent, beer-fuelled sing-along punk anthem in waiting that is "Pumpkin" comes punctuated by pogo-ing guitars entirely suitable for sweaty-venue moshing.
Fellow Londoners Kasms and their self-appointed genre shriekbeat are brought to mind on the wailing "Paradise Vendors", who in turn have a track under their belts called "Male Bonding". Even the acoustic, consistent afterthought of a closer "Worse To Come" brings in kindred spirits Vivian Girls on backing vocals to ice-cool Male Bonding's cake.
It isn't true to say that Nothing Hurts. The truth reputedly does, but with such a confident debut it doesn't look like hurting Male Bonding anytime soon.