An unapologetic smack across the face from your former self… but with lots of guitars.
Bully, aka Alicia Bognanno, has been making a lot of waves with her third album ‘SUGAREGG’. Her first two albums are mighty fine examples of rock but there is something that seems to be clicking with a wider audience than before. Bully herself says that this album has been the result of getting out of her own way. The result? A rock album that is utterly in the moment.
From the raucous trashing in opener ‘Add It On’ to the bass-led shoutathon that is ‘Let You’, this album is on fire. Guitar riffs spit and spark with grit and determination. Alicia’s vocals flick between that Americana mumble and a Courtney Love scowl at the drop of a syllable. The production of the album has that muddy grunge feel to it that makes all these flourishes and wall of sound moments feel all the more powerful. This entire album is early 90’s MTV when it was at its rock finest.
The songs themselves are a mix of glittery disaster and catchy riffs. For example, the track ‘Like Fire’ has cute pouty verses that in another songwriter’s hands could sound pure sass power pop. Here it is messy and emotive. Then the chorus explodes into a razor riff and response pattern. Its mumbled, shouty and a rocky riot. ‘Shout In Your Head’ is how I’d imagine living with multiple personalities would work as a rock song. Its lo-fi approach sounds like an assault on your personally. The sheer energy and fuck it attitude is infectious – veering into Punk territory with its aggressive whatevers.
Bully can be calm. ‘Come Down’ is a wonderful breather before the anthemic blitz of ‘Not Ashamed’ rises from that calmness to stand defiant. The lighter waving closer ‘Want I Wanted’ is fit for alternative radio play too – showing that even when you are letting it all hang out – sometimes its the best way to raise a listeners spirits.
I think the reason why I connected so much with ‘SUGAREGG’ is that it takes me back to my golden rock era as a kid/teen in the mid-’90s. Everything feels visceral. Passionate. Urgent. Important. Every riff and phrase is spilling out of the speakers with its sole purpose being to shake you awake. I love that style of rock and Bully has absolutely nailed it here. Easily one of the best rock albums of 2020.
Recommended track: Where to Start
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