What does Bully sound like?
A washing machine cycle of the very best of alternative pop rock from the 90s.
The review of Bully – Lucky For You
As a teenager, I feel lucky to have grown up forming my music tastes in the 90s. The advent of alt-rock becoming almost mainstream and MTV becoming an actual music channel were formative to my early music tastes. Bully clearly has a love for this era too. Her new album is a love letter to 90s alt-rock and it is glorious.
Mixed in here are all kinds of subgenres. We have the rowdy anthems opening the album with ‘All I Do’ and ‘Days Move Slow’ which evokes Belly channelling Green Day. Bully’s raspy edge to her voice is perfect for this style of punk pop because she can switch on the angst for just a syllable to emphasise subtle harshness. ‘A Wonderful Life’ balances sludgy guitars with a harmonica solo in a slow and deliberate power track. ‘Hard to Love’ then veers off into Portishead-tinged drum machines with razor-sharp guitar riffs over declarations of intent.
You’ll notice across this review that I’m constantly referencing various bands active in the 1990s. It is really difficult to pull off an album clearly inspired by an era of powerhouse bands and keep your own identity. Bully manages to carve out a distinct style throughout and that’s what sets this album apart from so many others. It doesn’t feel like it’s a copy/paste job, nor does it feel karaoke-esque. Instead, I feel like Bully is trying on different outfits so you can still find her essence in all these different tracks and it sounds natural. Power chord would be 1995 chart hit ‘Change My Mind’ is stunning in the way it nods to bands like Hole, but Bully adds her own spin constantly with dissonance, vocal delivery or riff quirks. It’s a clever melting pot of subgenres. ‘How Will I Know’ mixes vicious vocal angst, direct chorus riffs and really muddy verses that dances around trip-hop grungey moments. How many subgenres of rock would you like Bully? “Yes”, she replied casually…
Not content there we move on to shoegazer grizzle piece ‘A Love Profound’. It mixes a wall of the harshest guitars on the album with Bully’s lightest and most ethereal vocals on the album. It’s beautiful harsh reality is an album standout in an album full of them. We dive into a bit of Veruca Salt on ‘Lose You’ with guest Soccer Mommy joining in for added sass. After rocking out all album, ‘Ms America’ is the token quieter song but it’s no ballad. It’s more of a drumless rock piece that works best as a comedown track. The closing track ‘All This Noise’ is a total 180 for Bully. This two-minute track is absolutely iconic. For an album that is largely about metamorphosis and dealing with the trials of life, both big and small, it’s this track where Bully simply lets it all out. She is angry, tired and desperate for change and this song spoke to me on a cellular level.
Fusing together punk, shoegaze, alt-rock and some power chords and riffs from the 90s has transformed Bully’s music into something special. Bully has said this album is where she’s felt the most confident and safe to be creative and try new things and it really shows. No two songs sound the same and yet the album is cohesive and layered with thoughts, ideas and statements. I’d have loved this in 1995. I love it just as much in 2023. A confident breath of fresh air.
Recommended track: Days Move Slow
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