I first saw Bull live in 2015 when they played upstairs in Dusk as part of York’s Oxjam festival. At the time I was blown away by how the could fill and command a room with their performance. Fast forward to 2021 and the York indie four piece have released their debut album on EMI and Young Thugs records, Discover Effortless Living.
By Graeme Smith
The album has been teased for awhile now, with singles Love Goo, Eugene and Disco Living all released from the record. Yet, if you feel you’ve got the handle of the Bull sound from their singles, you don’t know the half of it. Over thirteen tracks, Discover Effortless Living journeys from ’60 stoner rock to ’90s grunge to upbeat pop rock.
The gentle, laidback vocals of frontman Tom Beer is your tour guide on that journey. Stories unfold of innocent love with a tongue-in-cheek undertones, broken hearts with philosophical overtones and straight up primal screams.
The easy-listening feel to the Bull’s style often gives a false impression of simplicity but, in this record, their sound feels anything but. A saxophone will guest star. Vocals will break down into barbershop-style harmonies. Guitar licks with come and go and sometimes things will just stop. A huge amount of thought has clearly gone into making things seem so effortless.
Though I first discovered Bull five years ago, Discover Effortless Living has been ten years in the making. The oldest track on the album is Green, originally written in 2012, a staple of their live set and a fan favourite. The other twelve tracks have been gathered over the past decade, culminating in a record of their sound evolution which ranges from the accessible to the experimental. The way the album is laid out reflects this too. Green and Love Goo welcomes you in before Eddie’s Cap and Serious Baby blow your mind.
It will be interesting to see how Bull follow up Discover Effortless Living; let’s hope it’s not another ten years before album number two! In the meantime, this debut marks a wonderful milestone for Bull and for York music in general. Alongside The Howl and The Hum, Bull are showing the world that York’s music scene shouldn’t be overlooked.
Discover Effortless Living is out 26 March 2021.