The Dalston neighborhood of London is home to many significant pop culture people/places/things. It brought us the ‘Nabootique’ shop on The Mighty Boosh, the setting of Simon Pegg’s movie Run Fatboy Run and it’s also where electronic party starters The Prodigy made their live debut in 1990. Now, Dalston has one more thing to boast about – burgeoning indie pop trio Male Bonding! Their sophomore album Endless Now, released on August 30, 2011 on Sub Pop records brings some solid, mixtape-worthy sounds from across the pond.
The album kicks off with the upbeat rock-fueled “Tame the Sun.” Catchy bass intro? Check! Slightly quirky guitar solos? Check! Rock drums well suited for jumping up and down on your bed? Check! The perfect rise and fall of sweet and slightly hazy vocal harmonies really brings this song full circle. It sounds like free wheelin’ pop perfection and it immediately makes its mark as my favorite song on the album. “Carrying” brings lush ahh ahh ahhs to the table amidst weaving lyrics and well placed handclaps. “Seems to Notice” doesn’t let up with infectious beats, bass and sprightly guitar hooks that get me hooked on Male Bonding’s particular brand of dreamy indie pop/rock. The melodic crispness reminds me a bit of Fountains of Wayne or Teenage Fanclub circa Bandwagonesque, but with an energy-boosting pop punk edge. Let the bedroom circle pit and light hearted pillow fight commence! If anyone’s down, this is definitely the soundtrack for such an occasion.
The second half of the album plays a little bit more into the heavier, moodier side of MB. In come the crazed drum fills with stop-and-go punk bass lines. They build up and come crashing back down again in foot-stompin’ choppy breakdowns amidst throaty and wailing guitar riffs. I enjoy the nice contrast it provides to all the sweet and supple vocal sounds. “Channeling Your Fears” draws from that heaviness, tackling of some raw lyrical sentiments. Singer John Arthur Webb displays his depressing truth “And all your dreams burst at the seams and it’s never right. I can’t believe it is what it seems and it’s never right. You know it’s never right.”
This album was recorded in the converted 19th century church that is Dreamland Recording Studio in Woodstock, NY where classic tracks like the B-52’s “Love Shack” and Dinosaur Jr’s “Where You Been” were laid and with producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore, Dinosaur Jr.) at the helm it comes as no surprise that Male Bonding’s “Endless Now” came out a strong, top-notch sophomore effort. The album strikes a lot of nostalgic chords with me whilst still sounding new and it provides several worthy tracks that can be singled out for my next “I Love the 90s…today” or “Sentimental Shoe Grazer Musical Tazer” playlists.
Album Review by Emily Saex