March 24, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 36°F


Vocals and quick pacing revive classic-rock sound

Since the early 2000s, some have said that rock is dead. With the expansion of electronics into the music world, fewer artists play their songs entirely live and rely more on computers. Enter the up-and-coming British group Male Bonding.

Fast-paced and energy-laced, the debut record from Male Bonding, “Nothing Hurts,” captures what makes rock music fun. By pairing distorted guitar solos and pulsing drumbeats with catchy vocal lines, Male Bonding has crafted an excellent first album.

Male Bonding is a basic trio of drum, bass and guitar. The sound on the record doesn’t expand outside of distorted guitar and fast-paced bass lines very often, but when it does, it is effective.

“All Things This Way” features a break where the guitar drops out and the listener is left with singing, drums and bass for 10 seconds, which comes as a nice change of pace from the rest of the record. Standout and closing track, “Worse To Come,” consists mostly of fast-strummed acoustic guitar and vocals that echo and sound like they were recorded in an empty auditorium.

The singing is quiet and harmonious compared to the music surrounding it. When the guitar distortion is turned up, the vocals sound far away and reminiscent of late ’70s or early ’80s punk music. The difference is when the band adds backing vocals, which adds a layer of depth and beauty to the sometimes rough-sounding tracks.

The songs on “Nothing Hurts” are short and succinct. Out of the 13 tracks, none of them reach three minutes in length, and a few don’t even reach two minutes. By keeping things quick, the album never gets boring. Each song hooks the listener early and ends before it wears out its welcome.

Male Bonding is hard evidence that rock isn’t a dying genre, just an under-represented style of music.