A very old saying goes that no one saves us but ourselves. Recognizing and breaking free from the patterns impeding our forward progress can be transformative — just ask Bully's Alicia Bognanno.
Indeed, the third Bully album, Sugaregg, may not ever have come to fruition had Bognanno not navigated every kind of upheaval imaginable and completely overhauled her working process along the way. "There was change that needed to happen and it happened on this record," she says. "Derailing my ego and insecurities allowed me to give these songs the attention they deserved."
Sugaregg roars from the speakers and jumpstarts both heart and mind. Like My Bloody Valentine after three double espressos, opener "Add It On" zooms heavenward within seconds, epitomizing Bognanno's newfound clarity of purpose, while the bass-driven melodies and propulsive beats of "Where to Start" and "Let You" are the musical equivalents of the sun piercing through a perpetually cloudy sky.
On songs like the strident "Every Tradition" and "Not Ashamed," Bognanno doesn't shy away from addressing "how I feel as a human holds up against what society expects or assumes of me as a woman, and what it feels like to naturally challenge. But amongst the more dense topics, there's also a lightheartedness that was lacking on Bully's last album, 2017's Losing. Pointing to "Where to Start," "You" and "Let You," Bognanno says "there are more songs about erratic, dysfunctional love in an upbeat way, like, ‘I'm going down and that's the only way I want to go because the momentary joy is worth it.'"
The artist admits that finding the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder radically altered her mindset, freeing her from a cycle of paranoia and insecurity about her work. "Being able to finally navigate that opened the door for me to write about it," she says, pointing to the sweet, swirly "Like Fire" and slower, more contemplative songs such as "Prism" and "Come Down" as having been born of this new headspace. Even small changes like listening to music instead of the news first thing in the morning "made me want to write and bring that pleasure to other people."
1. Add It On
2. Every Tradition
3. Where to Start
6. Let You
7. Like Fire
8. Stuck in Your Head
9. Come Down
10. Not Ashamed
11. Hours and Hours
12. What I Wanted