On Bully’s third release, SUGAREGG, now-official band mastermind Alicia Bognanno continues to channel her every feeling into intense rock howls. The sound of SUGAREGG is not markedly different from prior releases, Feels Like and Losing, except for feeling even more concentrated. The album begins with “Add It On,” a burst of ferocious noise and Bognanno hardly lets her foot off of the gas pedal throughout the next 30-or-so minutes. While this controlled and potent delivery is admirable, and Bully’s trademark, the album shines slightly brighter when Bognanno lets herself explore more varied musical and vocal territory.
Throughout SUGAREGG Bognanno applies her impressive vocals to subjects ranging from the rejection of motherhood and anxiety to the sensation of a manic episode and an assortment of complicated feelings in-between. The organic, righteous rock Bully is known for can make songs like “Every Tradition” feel even more impactful and empowered. Bognanno sings how she’s never wanted kids, and she’s not going to change her mind, because “I felt this way forever/some things stay the same /I stay the same.” A similarly robust and revitalizing sense of self is present in “Not Ashamed” and “Hours and Hours.” In these later tracks, Bognanno shouts, “I’m not ashamed, and I don’t regret it” and “I’m not angry anymore/I’m not holding onto that.” The conviction Bognanno brings to every phrase hits as hard even when she’s singing about being unsure, as in the melodic “Where to Start.”
The back half of the album features several standout songs in content and delivery. “Like Fire” has Bognanno, who lives with Bipolar II Disorder, describing a manic episode from the euphoria to staying up at 3 a.m., to feeling “like fire.” It’s an instant of sharp writing tucked within an accessible melodic rock song—just one of many on SUGAREGG. “Come Down” deals with similar material, with lyrics like “I’m burning from the inside out… [and] I can’t come down.” “Come Down” stands out further by starting with a relatively subdued rhythm rather than the instant burst that so many other Bully tracks launch with.
Additional moments of musical variety are found in songs like “Stuck In Your Head” and “Hours and Hours.” During the former song, a sneaky backup vocal finds its way to you underneath layers of Bully noise. “Hours and Hours” is the “slowest” track of the album, with Bognanno moving effortlessly between quiet moments of reflection and powerful declarations of growth.
These shining spots throughout SUGAREGG, alongside Bognanno’s impressive intensity, make this album another enjoyable addition to the Bully collection. While they sometimes feel too few and far between, the moments that surprise and delight make the future of Bully look even brighter than before.