For Bully frontwoman Alicia Bognanno, songwriting is much more than just a purgative exercise. Her music is a perfect scrim, allowing her to bleach her most intimate insecurities and volatile chapters in such a manner that, when blared over her band’s punchy, fuzzed-out guitars and chummy basslines, results in a pageant of assured tenacity and pronounced poise.
Feels Like has been a debut LP eagerly anticipated by anyone who has wrapped his or her ears around any of Bully’s previous releases, and a couple of tracks from the finished article will not be new to fans of the band. With Bognanno’s unswervingly honest delivery serving as the centrepiece of her band’s sprightly debut, the baited melodies are allowed to sound thoroughly organic, and remain conspicuously uplifting whatever the subject of her candour.
There is no arrogance, nor superfluous frills with Bully – just a jauntily agile display of confidence that goes hand-in-hand with such a veraciously honest blueprint. Album opener I Remember races itself out of its own blocks, with 1 minute and 47 seconds ample time for Bognanno to show both her desperately feverish vocal side in the track’s quick-fire verses, as well as her saccharine charm in a brief but sparkling chorus. Fuzzy feedback gives way to the slack-fuzz grace of Reason, and you already feel like you’re in the heart of the record. This is music that is dangerously infectious and perennially punchy.
Tracks are churned out thick and fast, with each bouncy melody sanded-down into something fresh and incessantly catchy. Bognanno’s vocals are sublime, never performing any acrobatics or pirouettes, simply delivering the most fundamental array of sincerity. Nowhere is this displayed more adeptly than in Trying. Whilst Bognanno is discharging a stream of grievances, a pensive, traipsing bassline governs the overriding motif of resentment and the hardship of growing up. The delightful bassline helps load the bait onto the cozy guitar hook, whilst vocals strain from a sweet-tempered jaunt to a frenetic howl, which will probably draw comparisons to the likes of Courtney Love. This would be doing her a disservice – Bognanno is in a different league, with an unflinchingly natural assurance that is seldom seen.
In just over half an hour of airtight fuzz, there is no let up at all. Each track sounds as fresh and as punchy as the last, and it is instantly infectious. Alicia Bognanno delves into subjects you would only ever relay to your best friend, and you listen to her as if you’re hers. Man, I feel as bad as her about her breaking her sister’s arm when she was 6. At The Great Escape festival in Brighton last month, the band validated the hype that they’d managed to garner over the past few months with a clinically clinched performance, rubber-stamping the notion that they are indeed the dog’s bollocks in the process. This refreshing, thoroughly relatable take on the art of growing up will genuinely will be a contender for Album of the Year come December. 92%.
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