Bully took the rock world by storm a few years ago, making grimy 90s rock tones feel powerfully relevant without sounding derivative. Years of touring later, the band had to pick up the pieces of the life their success offered them. Bringing a deeply personal record, this release finds Bully vulnerable yet strong, for a record that soars on its decidedly honest lyrics. The records first half offers up chilling moments while the second half brings out the strongest songs they’ve written in a long time. Even when the album feels pressed to escape its guitar-rock trappings, the energy and emotion that the lyrics create with the band actually elevates the music.
Cranking up its pace slowly on “Feel The Same” you can feel the energy building from the first beat of the drums. The sense of love after hard times is so present in Bognanno’s lyrics as she laments the ever-present hole after someone leaves your life. Brightening up on “Kills To Be Resistant” there’s a triumphant uptick and a lively energy to their raw drums. Even with the more repetitive moments in the song the explosive reactions of bridge is really the emotional high point of the track.
“Running” brings out purring bass for a delicious rhythmic hook that dances with the guitar lines excitedly. Bognanno’s ability to work through brutally honest and pained emotions lyrically is refreshing, especially as she shrieks out the anger. Under a crushing distorted tone, “Seeing It” lets its dark tones soak into the track. On some of the album’s more emotive guitar riffs, the psychedelic harmonies make each of Bognanno’s wails all the more powerful.
Getting to the root of her pains on “Guess There” Bognanno carries a sense of pride in her sarcastic lyrics, making the tracks melancholy a little more fun. The swinging grime they infuse into the track makes the seemingly simple chord progressions a moving force that elevates the track. “Blame” does lean more on its lyrics than its straightforward writing, letting its big sense of dynamics compensate a little more than on other tracks. While the album’s great production gives the song an addictive sound overall, the track will leave you waiting until the final moments for a big impact.
“Focused” chugs along like the heavy-hearted sister to a Pixies track, with an enthralling bass hook and a much more honest sense of lyricism. On this track more than many the band has ever done before, the band slow-burns their dynamics to great effect, letting the distortion and Bognanno’s cries take over the track to show a natural progression of emotional states. Excitingly metal on “Not The Way” they get extra dirty in tone while upping their catchy writing in bizarre writing. Tonally abrasive to harsh degree, the song is one of the most fun and cleverly written on the record if you can embrace the explosive energy.
It’s exciting to hear the hopeful energy really hitting its stride on “Spiral” as the band starts to take all its down-beat moods and turn them into something self-deprecatingly progressive. Just as quickly as Bognanno admits her wrongs, the burst of the chorus sweeps the track into hard-hitting choruses that call for people to rise up. Rolling their drums with a dance-floor bass kick, “Either Way” burns with some of the most punk energy of the entire album while letting its personal core make it all the more accessible. Unhinged in its solo and fiery drum playing, each member is pushing themselves to the limit to match the words flying out.
“You Could Be Wrong” blends dreamy vocal production with absolutely washed out guitars for a moment of clarity. Reaching the album’s happy finale, the track reflects on more subtle emotions of love. Closing with devastating growls of guitar, “Hate And Control” leaps to the hardest pit of a relationship, letting its scratching tones match the harshness of bad love.
Words by Owen Maxwell