Lucky For You is Bully’s most close-to-the-bone album yet. It’s an album that’s searing and unmistakably marked by its creator’s experiences, while still retaining the massive sound that Alicia Bognanno has become known for over the last decade. Her fourth album draws from personal pain and the universal struggle that is existing, learning, and moving on—and it’s all soundtracked by Bognanno’s rock-solid melodic sensibilities and a widescreen sound that’s impossible to pin down when it comes to the textures explored. These ten songs are simply the most irresistible Bognanno’s put to tape yet, making Lucky For You her greatest triumph to date in a career already packed with them.
Work on Lucky For You began last year, when Bognanno brought some in-progress demos to producer J.T. Daly in his Nashville studio to see if they could strike creative kismet. “Authenticity is always on my mind, without even knowing it,” she explains while discussing their recording process together. “If I’m doing something that doesn’t feel natural or right, I’m quick to shut it down. So it was great with J.T., because I could tell he was a genuine fan who wanted to emphasize what’s actually good about my writing instead of changing it. I could tell how much he cared about the project and it meant alot to me.” The album came together over the course of seven months, the longest gestation process for a Bully record to date: “I was freaking out about it at first, because taking my time was so new for me. But a few months in, I realized how crucial that time ended up being. I got songs out of it that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
“With every record, I feel more and more secure in terms of doing what I want,” Bognanno continues. “For this one, I wanted to be as creative as possible with these songs.” She got her wish: A kaleidoscopic rock record spanning punk’s grit, the crunchy bliss of shoegaze, explosive Britpop, and the type of classic anthems Bully has been known for, Lucky For You’s thematic focus also zooms in on grief and loss. The record is largely inspired by Bognanno’s dog Mezzi passing away, at a time when her life already felt as if in metamorphosis.
“Mezzi was my best friend,” she explains. “She made me feel safe and empowered, she showed me that I was worth loving and never judged me or viewed me as a let down. I always felt accepted, understood and so much less alone. Mezzi was living, breathing proof that I was worthy of being loved.” And the oceanic first single “Days Move Slow” was written shortly after Mezzi’s passing, reflecting the persistence of Bognanno’s incisive wit even while facing adversity. “There was nothing else I could do except sit down and write it, and it felt so good.”
“Hard to Love” stomps and lurches with awesome abandon, resembling one of the most sonically left-field tunes Bognanno’s put to tape as Bully; and then there’s the passionate opening track “All I Do,” which kicks in the door Bully-style with huge riffs atop her lyrical reflections on three years of sobriety. “I’ve been living in this house for seven years,” she says while discussing her current Nashville abode. “Once I stopped drinking, I felt like I was still haunted by mistakes and things that had happened when I was drinking, and it’s still taking me a long time to forget about that while existing in this house. How do I shed the skin from a path I’ve moved on from?”
In that vein, Lucky For You is a document of perseverance in the face of the big and the small stuff. “I’m so overly emotional and sensitive, it’s a blessing and a curse” she says with a laugh, but there’s no downside to her expressions of vulnerability on this record; it’s the latest bit of evidence that nothing can hold Bognanno back.
Recorded by Nick Roeder in the band’s hometown of Louisville, Wombo’s new EP ‘Slab’ is a loose, instinctual grouping of songs that gradually morph into sonic territory that’s at once familiar to those already indoctrinated with the band’s experimental doses of surrealist escapism; as well as sweeter, stripped-down shapes.
Most of the guitar parts from the EP are scratch takes that fit both the dueling energies and intentional imperfections of the songs, with overlaid vocals recorded on the same day. The result is an of-the-moment snapshot of a band that’s both settling naturally into a sound all their own while still remaining in constant evolution. The trio of Sydney Chadwick, Cameron Lowe and Joel Taylor sound more comfortable than ever, guiding the listener through a cohesive framework of peculiar hymns in a language only they can translate.
Lead single “Slab” was inspired by a book Chadwick read about disassociation, and came from improvising lyrics in the band’s basement practice space. The song perfects the Wombo formula of simple, unexpected lyrical metaphors wound up in complex instrumentation, tracing unusually catchy melodies that get stuck in your head. Originally made to be a solo piece on piano, “Thread” is filled with unassuming layers that transform the song’s outward simplicity into something both transient and spellbinding. Chadwick’s low-key delivery makes her melancholic sentiments (“who was singing about loneliness?”) universally grounding.
“In Situ” (the title of which comes from an archeology term meaning finding something in its original last position of use) imbues some of compelling live energy that permeates the band’s sets, while “Wolfe Ave 40” is perhaps the broadest departure yet from Wombo’s catalog, an intimate ditty written on Chadwick’s nylon string guitar. “I listened to her and we found there were things to share,” Chadwick elucidates. It’s in these quiet moments of revelation that Wombo shine the brightest: like awakening from a dream, glimmering with hope and reset intention.