BULLY Losing gets 7/10

Bully
Losing
Sub Pop

7/10

Losing is the second album from four-piece Nashville alternative rockers Bully. Their debut album Feels Like, released in 2015, was a small dose of refreshing 90’s alt rock with similar sounds to the likes of Sonic Youth, Pixies, Garbage, mellower Nirvana and early Weezer mixed in there. In terms of sound, Bully don’t divert too far from Feels Like with their new album, though the band’s maturing is reflected in their subtly polished edges.

Alicia Bognanno’s powerful vocals gracefully float across the melodic and, at times, thrashing instrumentals, which never seem to overpower one another. She still manages to up the ante and slice through them like a hot knife through butter when needed with her soothing vocals rapidly morphing into fiery howls at the push of a button.

While many of the lyrics are emotive and confessional, Bognanno can sing them with finesse or aggravation as needed. Her angsty lyrics are delivered with a nice grungy style but it’s more confident in comparison to her sound on Feels Like. The lyrics are personal and soaked in honesty, and you can really feel for Bognanno’s close connection them. The album is dominated by the reoccurring subject of breakup and the emotive aftermath of such, with many lyrics sounding like a diary entry or confessional strait from Bognanno herself. Although emotive, she doesn’t sound broken like you would expect, if anything, she sounds uplifted, free and careless. This is relaxing music but not as we know it, think Angus and Julia Stone infused with The Distillers, something you can chill out to, but also thrash out to as well.

Opening track, Feel the Same, is a punchy example of the band and their garage indie rock style that’s immediately difficulty to resist. Despite being the shortest track on the album (1:59), Bognanno’s fearless honesty is laid out bare with lyrics like “I cut my hair, I feel the same, masturbate, I feel the same”.

The same tone is followed through with Kills to Be Resistant, though it’s a little more fast paced and takes on a touch more aggression with some neat riffs scattered amongst it. Third and fourth tracks, Running and Seeing, are bass heavy and loaded with beefy riffs but also see Bognanno’s vocals hit another level with emotive howls. Guess There and Blame take on more of a melodic sound, very catchy and a highlight of the album.

The longest track on the album, Focused (4:30), and is shrouded in a deep bass with gentle guitar riffs and drums which really enhances the vocals and the instrumentals build up nicely for the vocal outbursts. Not the Way is loaded with repetitive drum-rolls and screeching vocals that, at times, seem a little too much. Without the pitchy screeching screams, this track has a neat 90s Garbage vibe and, although they give the track a nice grunge feel, could have been left out to for a mellower easy-listening track. This seems to be the approach taken in proceeding track, Spiral.

Either Way takes on a bit more of a punk approach with some reduced vocals where the guitars and bass really get to shine, particularly the last 30 seconds, while You Could Be Wrong turns the tables and takes on more of a mellow grunge sound. To close out the album, Hate and Control is one of those tracks that has a little bit of everything infused with it, and is a notable example of the band’s range of capabilities in a single track.

If you enjoyed their debut album Feels Like, you’re more than likely going to thoroughly enjoy Losing. It’s a high grade garage indie rock record chock-full of emotionally honest, melodically engaging tunes reminiscent of 90s indie rock. Whether you’re and existing fan of Bully or looking for a nostalgic reintroduction to 90s era indie rock, you won’t be disappointed. Its full of emotion and angst but you’ll still be able to sit back, enjoy and rock out to this album. Despite the title, Bully are onto another winner with Losing.

RYAN ELLIS

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