Christy Ku looks back at the debut record from Nashville quartet Bully, Feels Like, a month from its release on Columbia Records.
“Bully delivers throat-screeching/borderline lyric retching vocals in songs about youth and all its weights”
23 June 2015, Columbia
This debut album from the American four-piece band is saturated with the angst of long hazy summer days, spent trying to figure out who you are and who you’ll be. Fronted by Alicia Bognanno, she recorded the whole album by herself at Chicago’s Electrical Audio where she used to intern (internships really are useful after all). An immensely talented woman, she brings Courtney Love-esque vocals (and tousled dyed-blonde hair) to the band’s grunge-indie-rock sound which has a distinct 90s feel.
Feels Like takes on day-to-day anxieties and fears, and cathartically screams it all out in songs about memories, becoming a woman and scabbed legs. The album is full of honestly frank lyrics; in ‘Six’, Bognanno sings about her childhood guilt of breaking her sister’s arm, and later sleeping on her own broken arm for self-repentance. The lyrics can also be bluntly beautiful: “I wonder if you’ve ever felt this confused/ It’s magical you make me like trash” (‘Trash’).
As Bully’s singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and engineer, Bognanno is talented to the point where it appears her band members are overshadowed by her, rather than contributing to the music. In the music video for ‘Trying’, the others’ faces were barely shown and in the opening track, ‘I Remember’, the guitar’s jagged chords are trying to keep up with her. There’s a risk that Bully will become Bognanno and her supporting people who play instruments rather than a united band. Reece Lazurus’ growling bass is strong throughout the album, but the band members need to be providing the power Bognanno delivers.
Holding nothing back, Bully delivers throat-screeching/borderline lyric retching vocals in songs about youth and all its weights. With strong reviews everywhere, there are high hopes that this band will be a success, and hopefully for a long time.