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Bully cope with the hype to smash The Great Escape

Buzz can be a cruel mistress. For every band the waves of hype send soaring on their crests, another hundred or more wipe out before they’ve even got going. No concern for substance or mettle, it’ll often pick out an unwitting victim on the most flippant of fads, leaving little chance of longevity, never mind success.

Not Bully, though. Bully are different. The Nashville quartet’s grungy, 90s slacker rock is special, not formulaic. Alicia Bognanno brings attitude her contemporaries couldn’t hope to match. Recording their debut album at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio, where Bognanno interned to hone her craft, both on record and live it bleeds through every pore. Even at a festival of wall to wall hot new things like The Great Escape, they stand out by a mile.

Great bands have something special. From Nirvana to Pixies to Sonic Youth, there’s a certain, tactile, undefinable quality their peers don’t even notice is missing. It’s that which Bully have in skip loads. A packed out crowd may have come to see what the fuss is about, but they leave spellbound. ‘Trying’, a standout full of painfully honest worries, says it better then most. Immediate and direct, yet stinging like an open wound soaked in alcohol, it never once feels like it’s having to live up to its name. Effortless would be the wrong word – there’s nothing lazy about it – but like anything brilliant, Bully make it all look easy.

Photos: Emma Swann