Review: Bully – Losing

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 at 2:10 PM
Review: Bully – Losing by Livia Homerski

                                                            Rating: ★★★☆☆

Bully came back this fall to deliver their sophomore album, “Losing” after a two-year gap from their first release, “Feels Like.” Signed to Sub Pop Records, Bully is a band that continues to bring some edge to the Seattle-based indie record label.

Some of the things that stand out most on the album are the honest and apathetic lyrics and the instrumentation thick with accompanying attitude. The drums and vocals are recorded flatly without much effect, while distorted, fuzzy guitars spin out the remaining texture.

Lead singer Alicia Bognanno has a Gwen Stefani-esque vocal quality, sans the out-of-control vibrato Stefani embellishes her vocals with. Bully pays homage to some of the women of punk-rock by sweetly singing and subsequently screaming throughout the record.

“Guess There” is heavily guitar-driven and features some catchy riffs along with despondent lyrics detailing general ennui. The layered vocals with a slight harmony sing along, and the yelling towards the end of the track captures a decent snapshot of what Bully has to offer in “Losing.” Even though it sounds rather upbeat, there is an underlying sense of dissatisfaction in everything.

The strongest track is “Focused,” a bass riff heavy slow-jam centered around what seems to be a heart-breaking confessional about a past friend who the writer is reconnecting to. The tension builds throughout the song until Bognanno begins to scream, “I am trying to stay focused!” and threatens to kill whoever hurt her friend. For any guy or gal who has seen their best friend date a sentient trash can for a human can scream right along to this track, the passion hits heavily.

The final track, “Hate and Control,” starts off as a rocking clincher to the album, but ends up faltering into monotony outside of the verses. The contrast between the cleaner guitar sound in the verse versus the major distortion during the chorus is perhaps the most distinct thing about the track.

I was not impressed with the album after the first listen, but it is a decently put together garage-rock album with polished top-notes. There is angst, fuzzy guitars and tasteful drums, all exemplary for an alternative album. A great album contains a majority of tracks with a distinct moment that stands-out and begs for your attention. That moment only happened once or twice on this record for me.

I realize that I tend to be a lenient reviewer and that music is subjective; all that jazz. That being said, I think I have heard one too many albums that just sound the same. This is the case with the confines of the broad genre; the album does not explore anything new. Other than having a strong female front woman, Bully is your average indie-grunge-garage-punk band.

In future releases, I would hope that Bully pushes their sound out of their comfort zone and tries something more challenging; they certainly seem like they have the ability to do so. The contrast between Bognanno’s soft vocals, her howling and the heavy instrumentation is something unique and interesting for Bully to keep from “Losing.”

Standout tracks: “Focused” and “Guess There” 

Stream below: 

Livia Homerski is a staff writer for The Spectator. 

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