Even with a proper studio and bona fide producer, Male Bonding still recorded Sub Pop debut Nothing Hurts the only way they knew how: by cranking the volume and playing relentlessly, tossing unwitting listeners into a sonic whirlwind. Sophomore effort Endless Now isn’t much longer than Nothing Hurts‘ lean 30 minutes and, with John Arthur Webb’s guitar roaring over rumbling, tumbling rhythms, it feels just as carefree.
But as evident from the get-go — and partially thanks to producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Thurston Moore Dinosaur Jr.) — these slightly scruffy punks have shed their music of its lo-fi fuzz. While still audibly inspired by the Buzzcocks, they’ve learned to relax a little; about halfway through the six-minute highlight “Bones,” they even veer off the trail and get lost in their own surprisingly gorgeous harmonizing, evoking a young Beach Boys. Unlike its predecessor, this studio effort actually sounds like a studio effort — ’60s pop with ’80s punk sensibilities that hint at a life outside seedy dive bars.