Bully - Feels Like - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Bully - Feels Like

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2015-06-25

Nashville's Bully have scored a major label contract, and it appears they’ve done so on the back of their singer’s natural songwriting ability, and expressive flair. Alicia Bognanno has a scouring voice, one that easily reverts to honey. Her range is somewhere between the caterwauling vocals of Courtney Love and the soothing vocals of Tanya Donelly from Belly. She has what Kristin Hersh is capable of, but is maybe even more emotionally volatile.  

Opening track ‘I Remember’ jumps the mark like a startled gazelle, an abrupt and shortened radio signal forewarning something loud. Bognanno sings about getting fucked up, throwing up in cars, and making poor choices in lovers. Memories cannot always be supplanted. Sometimes we learn from mistakes, sometimes we seem destined to repeat them. ‘I Remember’ is not about yearning, it’s about, well, fucking up. That’s all. It’s all racing guitars, pummelling drums, and barking vocals. 

Changing tack just a little, ‘Reason’ takes on Pavement with Bully's own angular game, ringing dissonant guitars, and hooks aplenty. Midway, a guitar noodling sojourn with gentle synthesiser reminiscent of early Echo & the Bunnymen.   

‘Too Tough’ is all fuzzy rhythmic guitars holding a phrase, another guitar playing distorted notes and warped melodies, Bognanno harmonising more like Kim Deal at the outset, but the calling card yowl is never more than a phrase away. On one of the fuzziest singles of the year, ‘Trying’, Bognanno struggles with her periods, trying to find clarity, trying to be motivated, and looking inward, simply trying to not be trying: "Invisible handcuffs locked on me/ Been praying for my period all week/ and relief that I just can’t see/ I’m trying I am/ I’m trying all the time.

There’s a great hook on the refrain, and an excellent bridge at 2:10,  as darkened staccato notes provide a moment of introverted pause, before a return to the verse, this time culminating in a last massive chorus where her frustrations come to a head. Awesome track. 

‘Trash’ is probably one of the best punk anthems I’ve heard from a woman about a shit relationship. No cheap laments here, anger is directed forthwith to those men who don’t want to listen, and treat her like a child. They can fuck off out of her life.

You can’t write a book about what you don’t know, Bognanno bellows, over a cacophony of post-punk guitars. At 2:33, the guitars go all screaming ballistic, like Joey Santiago stepped in to the studio momentarily.  

‘Milkman’ is another stomping single, grungy rung-out guitars and catchy as hell. Little wonder Alicia Bognanno was Steve Albini’s intern. She mixed and produced this herself. Maybe not startlingly original, but what alternative rock music is these days?  

Animalist platinum blonde grunge rock with no furry props. Do you need them ?

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