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Review | “The frustration and the fury” Bully – Losing

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The Last Mixed Tape reviews Losing, the sophomore studio album from alternative-rock outfit Bully. 

The frustration and the fury that seethes underneath Losing is palpable. Steeped in loose hanging malaise one moment and contorted by full-force angst the next, Bully play with the dynamics of discontent within the blink of an eye throughout their sophomore outing. An album with no corners to hide in, Losing is an exposed nerve of a record.

“What is it about me that makes you so uncomfortable? Can we just exist without your hate and control?” snarls Alicia Bognanno during the closing moments of ‘Hate and Control’ (and indeed the album itself)summing up the need for release seen throughout Losing. Indeed, this tense push and pull between meaning and expression is the main theme of the record, portrayed through several powerhouse performances from Bully as a band.

Whether it be the cathartic screams released on ‘Seeing It’ or the melodic thrust of ‘Spiral’, Losing keeps an undercurrent of trauma, rage and truth bustling underneath at all times. Add to this, just how up-front Bognanno’s vocal is sonically and how each line is instantly supported by the mood-driven guitars and emotive drumming of Bully, and there can be no doubt as to the honesty in creativity shown on the album as a whole.

And while Bully certainly wear their late eighties / early nineties alt. rock influences on their sleeve, the band are able to re-contextualise the angst-drenched aspects of the genre into something that feels relevant to the here and now. Nowhere is this best seen than on the propellant ‘Kills To Be Resistant’, a song wherein all the frenzied passion behind lines like “What’s the matter? Do you feel nothing” is emphasised by the juxtaposition of no-wave Sonic Youth-esque verses and hard-hitting punk choruses. This clashing and melding of styles makes Losing stand-out rather than fall underneath the weight of its own sonic inspirations.

Losing doesn’t have a filter, nor does it use this fact to become heavy-handed. The album is all about unchecked expression, the ability to simply release (if even for a moment) everything pent up within. Whatsmore Bully don’t resolve this fury by the end of the record, that stays, but instead, give themselves and the listener an outlet for it.

Rating: 9/10

Losing by Bully is out now via Sub Pop Records. 

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