Album of the Week: Bully, 'Sugaregg'

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Bully, 'Sugaregg'
Bully, 'Sugaregg' (SubPop Records)

On Sugaregg, her third record - and first as an official solo project - Alicia Bognanno delivers songs that still pack the punch we've come to expect from Bully, while confidently stepping into a more mature soundscape.

When the world was introduced to Bully by way of 2015's Feels Like, perhaps listeners came for Bognanno's signature shriek and stayed for her impeccable production chops. Both hallmarks remain intact five years later, although there's more sonic and emotional depth to explore with this record, which rewards (and deserves) multiple listens.

This creative evolution seems par for the course, considering the personal changes Bognanno has endured since releasing Losing in 2017. During this time, she was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder and sought out treatment, parted ways with the members of her band, and "derail[ed] her ego and insecurities" through her work.

Pushing herself further into uncharted territory, Bognanno relinquished some of her roles behind the console and enlisted the help of industry veteran John Congleton as co-producer of Sugaregg. To record most of the album's tracks, they decamped to Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, MN - not far from Bognanno's suburban roots in Rosemount. The result of this collaboration is a more intimate sound than we've heard from Bully before. The record's densely layered production brings lush soundscapes to life, while delightful bits of extemporaneous audio pull back the curtain on the recording process. Listen closely for moments when Bognanno talks to her dog, Mezzi, or playfully encourages her collaborators to pick up the tempo.

Lyrically, Bognanno invites listeners into a more nuanced headspace on Sugaregg that bears talismans of a newfound independence. Songs like "Where to Start," "Let You," and "Come Down" grapple with the full reality of what it means to enter into relationships - the big moments and small ones, the exuberant feelings and the painful ones. Never one to shy away from making taboo subjects plain, Bognanno seems to dive deeper with this record and unfurls themes that could only be discovered after careful yet blunt introspection.

It's not despite these complexities, but because of them that Sugaregg offers such a refreshing listen. Much like the gift of getting older, this record sees Bully slipping into well-earned confidence and breathing a deep sigh of relief.

Related Stories

  • Virtual Session: Bully Bully's Alicia Bognanno joins Sean McPherson of The Current to perform a few songs and talk about recording Sugaregg in Minnesota's Pachyderm Recording Studio studios, and relinquishing her usual duties as producer.
  • Friendship is at the heart of Bully The origins of Bully's lineup can be traced to The Stone Fox, a now-defunct venue in Nashville. 'We were all at that place at the same time, were friends and had similar tastes in music,' says Bully frontwoman and bandleader Alicia Bognanno. Read more about how the band members found one another, and why friendship is the most important ingredient in the lineup.
  • Bully perform in The Current studio Ahead of two sold out shows at First Avenue opening for Courtney Barnett, Bully stopped by The Current to perform in-studio and to chat with host Bill DeVille.
  • Bully win with songs from 'Losing' in The Current studio On tour in support of their new album, 'Losing,' Bully stopped at The Current studio for a session hosted by Mac Wilson, where they rocked three songs from the new release.
  • Album of the Week: Bully, 'Losing' Like a journal entry at the end of a long night out, the writing on Bully's 'Losing' carries a rare authenticity that leaves you feeling as if you lived a moment in Alicia Bognanno's life.

7 Photos

  • Bully - Alicia Bognanno promo photo
    Bully's Alicia Bognanno (Angelina Castillo)
  • Bully - Alicia Bognanno promo photo
    Bully's Alicia Bognanno (Angelina Castillo)
  • Bully - Alicia Bognanno promo photo
    Bully's Alicia Bognanno (Angelina Castillo)
  • First Avenue 50 photos Nate Ryan MPR
    Bully on April 26, 2016 (MPR Photo | Nate Ryan)
  • Bully portraits at The Current
    Bully's Alicia Bognanno poses with her guitar following the band's session in The Current studio. (Evan Frost | MPR)
  • Bully
    Alicia Bognanno of Bully performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)
  • Bully
    Bully's Alicia Bognanno performing live in The Current studio (MPR / Nate Ryan)

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