Bully Sounds Young and Alive on 'SUGAREGG'

BY Jordan CurriePublished Aug 17, 2020

"I wanna be in touch, feel a little less disconnected without the crutch," Bully's Alicia Bognanno shouts amidst rampant guitars on "Stuck in Your Head." The sentiment is not a whimpering cry for help in the way it may appear in print, but instead a frustrated declaration, as though Bognanno wants to reach into the past and snatch back her loss of control. What ensues on SUGAREGG, her third album, is zippy yet vexed grunge where Bognanno illustrates her disorientation with an ever-changing life and breaking free of stifling traditions.

A sense of free-spiritedness is present on the album, almost nostalgic and childlike, a change of tone from Bully's denser 2017 sophomore record, Losing. Despite this, the album does not shy away from heavier explorations. Bognanno cites the treatment of her bipolar II disorder for having altered her perception of herself and her ability to craft music, with the sluggish desensitization to pain on "Prism" and the slow burn of "Come Down" as reflections of this state of mind.

Bognanno's disorientation and ennui never lacks soul or punchiness, however. The single, "Where to Start," was inspired by Chumbawamba's 1997 classic song "Tubthumping", evident in her chanting vocals, which, across the record and Bully's discography, are at times one-note with their mumbled raspiness. But the sounds of the record are an exhilarating rush nonetheless — a refreshing combo of raw and clean.

Amidst the grungy throwback sounds, Bognanno craves to break the mold, especially as a woman, with the tracks "Every Tradition" and "Not Ashamed" showing her disinterest in conforming to the expectations of life laid out in front of her by others. Simply put, Bully knows how to make music for feeling young and utterly confused, sometimes hopeless, and ultimately, completely alive.
(Sub Pop)

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