This might not come as a surprise to anyone who has listenedto Bully’s first album, Feels Like, but the follow-up is an emotional, visceral tour de force of feelings, growls and aggressive guitar licks.
It appears that frontwoman Alicia Bognanno went through quite the breakup (the musician’s best friend when it comes to inspiration) during the writing and producing of this album, as nearly every song on it chronicles its stages — initial breakup, hopeless middle stage where nothing makes sense, and the final, heart-still-hurting acceptance.
Bognanno can growl with the best of them, giving life to emotions in a way that’s usually reserved for heavy metal or one specific, emotionally resonant point. While it does give the album a sense of honesty and emotional credence, it also makes things a bit exhausting by the end. She does have a very nice and pleasant singing voice to listen to, and she showcases those skills in a cool way by harmonizing with herself, in a sort of aside, like the proverbial angel on the shoulder.
The opening song on the album, “Feel the Same,” shows this off nicely and acts as a sort of preamble to the rest of the album. It opens with Bognanno sitting alone, trying to do anything to forget about what happened and desperately attempting to make things feel normal.
“I cut my hair (feel the same)
/ masturbate (feel the same)
/ feed my dog (feel the same).”
She sings, and it feels so real. I think that beyond all of the music, which might be a silly thing to write in a music review, the best thing about the album is the way it captures that post-breakup depression. Things just do not feel the same way anymore, and that perfect encapsulation continues throughout the album.
Even for someone who gets to experience pretty cool things, like taking trips to Chicago, as chronicled on the song “Running,” the fear of running into someone — who once made your heart feel things in that oh-so-special way — is real.
I personally can relate to Bognanno when she sings, “I struggle with being back in town, especially when you’re around / I struggle with being back in town, especially when you are not around / you say I’m running / well I don’t care,” since that’s basically how I’ve dealt with the majority of my breakups.
Luckily not every track is devoted to navel gazing and the kind of emotional honesty highlighted here. The final song is a bit more hopeful. By this point some time has passed, and here comes the dreaded "talk,” which if all goes successful, should bring resolution to the relationship and (in this case) the album.
"What is it about me that makes you so uncomfortable / can we just exist without your hate and control,” she sings on the closer, “Hate and Control.”
There are so many songs here that can lyrically speak to someone, which alone is worth giving this album a spin. The songs do tend to blend together into that power-chord-and-bass-driven heavy angst style of rock that’s familiar to most, and I think that’s a little disappointing. Right now, this is a solidly average album, lifted by real and raw lyrics. But with a little more musical variety, it would have been a must-listen.
Give it a spin if you are in the middle of a breakup; the aggressive sounds might help.
Everyone else is probably OK skipping it.