Touring to promote their debut album, Bully played for a packed crowd at Chicago’s Empty Bottle in early May. Frontwoman Alicia Bognanno’s vocals were loud, the crowd was jumping around and Bognanno’s long, blonde mane was center of attention. Although hailing from Nashville, the audience responded to Bully as if they were a local band whose lead singer was your friend’s old roommate’s girlfriend. It is Bully’s catchy, yet raw enthusiasm that make them familiar and relatable. Feels Like is something you have heard before, but it is refreshing and done so well.
The album opens with “I Remember,” revealing Bognanno’s nostalgia about nights getting “too fucked up” and “throwing up in cars.” Emotionally honest and not holding back, it is Bognanno’s lack of barriers in her lyrics that sets Bully apart. Not to mention Bognanno’s delivery. Her vocals are heavy one minute and soft and endearing the next. “Picture” includes picky low guitar chords as Bognanno goes from speaking the lyrics to full blown yelling “I hate it so much.”
Bognanno’s lyrics are cathartic and nostalgic, but paired with punchy and scratching guitar shredding, it keeps Feels Like from feeling like a sappy, self-indulgent journal entry. “Milkman” is a vibrant, bouncy track as Bognanno sings about a past relationship as she “checked out 10 months ago.”
Bognanno is not a pop-star (at least, not yet), but instead a relatable 20-something questioning everything, even her sexuality. She is the cool, real girl who is maybe a bit confused and slightly misunderstood. Bognanno and bandmates released Feels Like full of power and colorful energy, a record that will keep you attached to it all summer, and having no doubt the group can play a killer live show.