One can always count on Bully for a rolling album filled with throw-backy tunes reminiscent of the sunnier side of Hole. If you like blasts of yelling over incredibly hooky hooks, then Alicia Bognanno’s latest, Lucky for You, may make your week. Or month. Or year. Engineered with lots of fuzz, but a giant bottom-end, it really is a greatest hits of your 90s love letter to late-era grunge. But produced way better. And with less dead white dudes. Because Bully is Bognanno. And Bognanno is Bully.
There is something celebratory about this record that I can’t quite put my finger on. Starting with track one, “All I Do,” it has this kind of locomotive chug and layered sound that makes you just want to pogo in place. But not in a happy-go-lucky way. Or even in a superfluous way. It’s something deeper and more adult. This ain’t light 80s pop music. Nor is it trashy pop punk (a genre I’m generally just fine with). There’s something more at play here. It has the hooks and the bop, but it’s much more considered. In its musicality. In its clearly thoughtful production. I don’t love every production choice here — sometimes the gimmickry overpowers the art — but it’s clear that the producer (presumably with a bunch of input from Bognanno) really went for it.
As the album progresses, it seemingly becomes more and more personal. More poppy. More introspective. From my reading, Bognanno has suffered from some setbacks in her life and with her band. Thus the band being less of a band at this point than a solo project that takes on touring musicians when it’s time to hit the road. If I were a lyric guy, I’m sure I’d realize just how personal these tunes are, but I can’t help but just vibe with her hooks and her incredible ability to make music that sounds like something you’ve heard before without being able to point to exactly where you’ve heard it. Which, in my case, made me want to listen to the record again. And again. And again. Frankly, I could hit repeat and just blast it through my headphones for hours without getting bored. There’s a nostalgia in the music, sure, but there’s also something else intangible that makes it really enjoyable. Again, some of the production choices aren’t exactly how I would have done it (too much fuzz here, too much delay there), but it is always listenable and interesting. And good. I don’t say that enough. This is a really good album. Top 10 for 2023 for absolute sure.