Album Review: Bully, ‘Feels Like’
When Bully frontwoman-bandleader (and producer-engineer) Alicia Bognanno sings that she's been "praying for my period all week," she singlehandedly topples decades' worth of cock-rock hegemony and restores the three dimensions that have long been lacking from the way sex is portrayed in music. The song on which she does this, "Trying," isn't even specifically about sex, which proves Bognanno's mettle as an artist capable of bringing enormous depth to her music in the space of just one short, fleeting verse. On another song, for example, Bognanno recalls the scent of an old lover's bedsheets.
Feels Like, the Nashville quartet's debut, abounds with moments like these as Bognanno alternates between paint-peeling screams and a wispy high-pitched coo that recalls Juliana Hatfield at her most precocious. Likewise, the band as a whole traverses the well-trodden ground of '90s alternative and indie rock. By the time you've reached the halfway point, you'll recognize the familiar sound and production values of a dozen bands from that era -- Superchunk, the Breeders, Liz Phair, etc. But if Bully aren't exactly calling for a sonic regime change, Bognanno's presence, her tendency towards raw disclosure, and her skill at illustrating whole pictures of how her protagonists live certainly give Feels Like the air of a work that stands up to be counted.