My anticipation for Male Bonding‘s second LP, Endless Now, became palpable after hearing ‘Bones’, a track released promotionally ahead of the album. Emotive, layered and strangely ethereal, the song features a pop-punk-ish riff maintained throughout its six glorious minutes, with various, accumulative vocal and guitar lines being added throughout, all to wonderful effect. Ah, but if only every song on the album were as good. Don’t get me wrong here though, matching the quality of that song would be near-impossible, but the album is hugely enjoyable regardless. Tracks like ‘Dig You Out’ and ‘What’s That Scene’ match the aesthetics of ‘Bones’, but, despite attempts to do otherwise, fall short of quite the same level of impassioned lament of said song. It comes as a surprise, then, that Male Bonding manage to pull off a six-minute song with such success, considering their penchant for punchy, two-to-three minute tracks, so perhaps it’s the lack of other songs with similar buildups that works against the band here.
Endless Now lacks the energy and vigour of last year’s Nothing Hurts, but rather than coming off as half-hearted or bland, it’s more emotional and, dare I say it, mature. While not a complete departure from the lively punk of their first album and the mountain of splits that preceded it, a la Abe Vigoda, songs like ‘Tame the Sun’ and ‘Dig You Out’ would seem hugely out of place alongside any of their earlier material, and are, if anything, a step forward. This development is most apparent in the vocals, which seem more detached and consist, in many places, of coiling, weaving harmonies, adding an additional dynamic to the well-crafted songs. Check out ‘Mysteries Complete’ to get a feel for the sense of disconnection embodied by the singing, despite the cheery, uptempo nature of the song. Also noticeable is ‘The Saddle’, a short, (nearly) touching, acoustic-lead dirge, different from anything recorded previously by the band.
This album is underwhelming only because of my inflated expectations, otherwise I’m sure I would have been far more impressed by totally rad tracks like the aforementioned ‘Tame the Sun’ and ‘Dig You Out’. Endless Now is, however, definitely worth your listening time, I just really hope you haven’t heard ‘Bones’ yet.
Male Bonding – ‘Endless Now’
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