Recorded at Steve Albini’s studio Electrical Audio, Feels Like is the first full-length release for Bully, the band fronted by Alicia Bognanno. Recorded, engineered and mixed by Bognanno herself, the release is an arrangement of confessional grunge-rock. Accompanied by Stewart Copeland on drums, Clayton Parker on guitar and Reece Lazarus on bass, Bognanno sings and screams about all areas of her adolescence.
Opening track “I Remember” is a series of memories, screamed and screeched. At its heart it’s a simple punk formula; “I remember getting too fucked up … I remember turning up at your house”. In “Reason” the vocals have a sweet edge – Bognanno switches between screeches and an almost sugar sweet pronunciation as thought to compensate. Bognanno asks; “Don’t you want to be apart of something bigger? Something strange is catching up to you”.
In “Trying” she sings out and repeats the words “I’m trying, I am” with such passion that they almost break. “Trash” is almost certainly a break up track – “I wonder what else you’ve lied about…” Bognanno ponders. There’s a steady yet angry delivery. Bognanno sings “Feels like trash” all punk and shout-y before going swiftly back to controlled pronunciation “I wonder…” The contrast works well, especially whilst accompanying the twangs of flat notes and guitar riffs.
“Six” has a narrative running through it “When I was six I broke my sister’s arm…When I was eight I broke my own arm… I know that doesn’t make us even”. Bognanno goes on to make a broader statement; “I would never make you feel the way the way some people make me feel, for I wouldn’t do that to you, ‘cos fuck those jerks”.
“Picture” is a thumping number whilst “Bully” pulls on teenage memories once more. “Sharktooth” closes the album with more angry reflection – “I’ll never sleep with you again…I’m not pulling out your shark tooth” and “It’s time to stop pointing fingers, it’s time to buck up Billy be a man”. So whilst Feels Like is angry there’s always a reflective narrative element running through it too – Bully manage to deliver both irreverence and sentimentality.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.