Album Review: Acid Tongue – Bullies

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By Josh Hudson / March 25, 2020

On their sophomore album Bullies, the Seattle-based rock band Acid Tongue present nine lean and well-honed pop rock songs clocking in at just over half an hour, but the duo covers a lot of ground in these 30 minutes.

The album opener, “Follow the Witch” serves as a statement of intent, with guitarist/singer/songwriter Guy Keltner’s psychedelic-influenced guitars and soulful vocal delivery pushing the song forward over drummer/vocalist Ian Cunningham’s backing vocals and beats that hold everything together.

Despite officially being a two-piece, the band does not let this (seeming) limitation impact their studio work.  While the primary instrumentation on the album is guitar, bass, and vocals (already one instrument more than members to play them).  It doesn’t take long for piano and keyboards to show up and play a prominent role on songs like “Bullies,” “Forty Years,” and “Jenny Lewis” (a song which also seems to serve as a nod to the Rilo Kiley frontwoman, whose second solo album shares the same name as the band).  Even string arrangements appear on “Bullies” and “Liars,” adding a degree of compositional complexity to otherwise straightforward and simple pop rock songs.  When playing live, the band typically expands their lineup to capture and convey these instrumental layers.

While most of the songs are typically at a mid-tempo, the band does pick up the pace for the rocker “Walk Don’t Run,” a song that also shows off Keltner’s lead guitar capabilities.  This track stands in stark contrast to others like the doo-wop thump of “Sometimes” or the album’s dreamy closer “Am I (The Only One).”

Thematically, the bands lyrics will not be inspiring any master’s theses, but they do speak in a relatable way to the difficulties human interaction and relationships can present (as alluded to by the album’s title).  This includes themes of unrequited love, social ostracization, growing older, and rebelliousness in reaction to these feelings.

For anyone who enjoys guitar-driven pop rock, as well the poppy-er aspects of the Black Keys (with a less obvious blues rock influence) and the 2000s era indie feel of early entries in Kings of Leon discography, this album is absolutely worth your time, especially in a world becoming more dominated by electronic music where the “pop” and “rock” genres see less and less overlap.

Bullies was released on March 13, 2020 on the band’s on label, Freakout Records.

Acid Tongue

Bullies

Released: 2020

Track Listing:

1. Follow the Witch

2. Candy

3. Bullies

4. Jenny Lewis

5. Liars

6. Walk Don't Run

7. Track Name

8. Sometimes

9. Am I (The Only One)

 

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To learn more about Acid Tongue, please see the following web resources:

About the author
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Josh Hudson

Josh has been following music in the DMV area ever since he started to call it home a decade ago. When not seeing or writing about music, he is often making it with different groups of musicians around town.