• The Record Press

Discover Effortless Living and how Bull became the most exciting band in York

Written by Bertie Kirkwood

The characterisation of Bull as a plucky little local band worth rooting for is starting to feel a little outdated. Ever since the release of their impressive debut EP Discover Effortless Living last year, the band have been cooking on gas. Not one but two of the ambitious album's seven singles have already racked up over 100,000 hits on Spotify, and the album alone spawned an extensive 28-date UK tour, including three nights at various smaller venues in their hometown of York, where a cult following is quickly emerging. The band even landed their own billboard on Bootham Crescent, inevitably dubbed online as “the Bullboard”.

Almost everything about Discover Effortless Living presents Bull as a band not willing to take themselves too seriously. Sunny electric guitars and hooks outlined by luscious Beatles-esque backing vocals are plentiful. Love Goo plods along with the help of a quirky woodwind lead (two slightly detuned clarinets would be my guess) before the hopelessly catchy hit single Green, a song indebted to the hippy rock of the 1960s. Eugene is perhaps the most playful track of the lot, temporarily switching from dreamy indie pop to driving pop punk after an electrifying transition. A manic classic rock guitar solo helps put the icing on Eugene's cake.

The band's best songs happen to bookend the album. Bedroom Floor is the brilliantly-executed indie rock opener, and sees Tom Beer's delicate vocal melodies sit nicely on a bed of acoustic guitars and a delightful mix of auxiliary percussion. The understated hook is a real winner, and a disorientating, risky bridge only makes the sudden return to the familiar chorus feel all the sweeter. On the other end of the album is the joyous closer Disco Living, which marks a triumphant finale for Discover Effortless Living and brings with it a vague sense of homecoming. With more than one guitar solo and lyrics that nod to Rappers Delight on several occasions, Disco Living is remarkable simply in how relentlessly upbeat it is. The band can't even make it to the second verse before throwing in a key change, making everything yet brighter and bubblier. A final chorus, strengthened with many layers of backing vocals, brings with it the urge to smile from ear to ear and punch the air with joy. It's songs like these I can depend on to lighten my mood no matter what.

Despite the album’s cheery finale, there’s plenty of shocks and surprises to be found at Discover Effortless Living’s heart. Eddie’s Cap, for example, erupts midway through, switching from tame singer-songwriter pop to head-thumping hard rock by way of Beer’s vocal screeches. Just when the chaos seems to be subsiding, the whole song devolves once again into a wonderfully noisy, furiously screamed outro. Serious Baby’s outro is even better, featuring a remarkably executed transition to an enormous-sounding, glistening choral section that sounds about as euphoric as music gets. A Hammond organ whirrs and a bass guitar goes exploring amongst the delicious concoction of sounds that I can only wish lasted a little longer so I could enjoy the musical bliss for just a few more seconds.

The consistent quality of Discover Effortless Living continues into the album’s closing tracks. Bonzo Please includes one of the band’s snappiest grooves (and most engaging guitar solos), whilst offering interesting commentary on the limits of artistic inspiration. In a Jar tackles even loftier topics of “personal, human contribution to the future” according to Beer, although a relaxed rock ‘n’ roll groove keeps things fairly light and easy. It’s on songs like these where Bull’s unique songwriting skills shine through. “We all think that we are the one,” Beer reminds us before an electrifying bridge in one of the album’s most flawless lyrical passages.

The professional quality of Discover Effortless Living - in everything from the mixing to the songwriting to the performances - betrays the fact that, billboards aside, Bull are still an admittedly small band. Of course, their smallness only serves to make the album all the more remarkable; surely few bands could come out with a well-rounded, engaging album on their first stab. Bull’s debut album doesn’t force well-meaning critics to talk about “boundless potential” or “the seeds of something great” - Discover Effortless Living is a hugely enjoyable album in its own right, even if it happens to have arrived at the start of what could be a very successful career for the four Yorkies. Now’s the perfect time to become a Bull fan, and you’ll still be just about early enough to claim you were one of the band’s first devotees back when the debut album came out. It should go without saying that whether you’re based in York or elsewhere, Bull is a band deserving of your full attention.

23 views0 comments