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On the release of their debut record, Feels Like, '90s alt-rock revivalists Bully appeared to be the band with the most authentic credentials. Their ostensibly unwavering commitment to the sound of that era was supported by the recording of their debut at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio (Bully's founding member Alicia Bognanno interned at the studio under the tutelage of Albini, and returned there to engineer Losing herself) as well as their recent signing to Sub Pop. However, while there was a great deal of praise for her songwriting, that admiration was sometimes footnoted by mild regret at a lack of unique character in their music. Extraneous circumstances aside, Bully have very much stuck to their guns with this latest offering, but not at the expense of development. If Feels Like revealed a very promising young songwriter, Losing cements that early potential. Lead single "Feel the Same" opens the record with an immediacy that's difficult to resist. It's punchy fuzzed-up garage rock featuring Bognanno's trademark unflinching honesty: "And I cut my hair/I feel the same/Masturbate/I feel the same. " Dissonance pervades the record, but the anthemic nature of her songs is revealed not too far below the surface harshness. "Kills to Be Resistant" is fast and aggressive yet filled with hooks, and the bass-heavy, beefy riffs of "Seeing It" are more than matched by the underlying melody. Lyrically, Bully's music is as angsty as ever in its exploration of youthful experience, breakups, and self-doubt. At its core, Losing comprises great pop songs, filtered through a distortion pedal and screaming vocals, and consequently it feels disingenuous to charge Bully with failing to capture their own character in the music. Bognanno's D. I. Y. approach to the recording and her candid lyricism ensure a real sense of authorship, but whereas lyrically she's far from safe, musically Bully could take a few more chances. Discounting Losing's debt to the past, this is a high-grade garage rock record chock-full of emotionally honest, melodically engaging tunes. It may feel a little too familiar for those who experienced the '90s alt-rock boom firsthand, but those who didn't will no doubt be able to extract and enjoy its vibrancy. ~ Bekki Bemrose



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