Charly Bliss (photo by Ebru Yildiz, PR)
The songs of Charly Bliss are an effusive explosion of power pop, New Wave, and guitar rock. It was clear that the New York quartet were on to something pretty special after the release of their first few EPs, like 2014's "Soft Serve," and their 2017 debut album, Guppy. The group's second album, Young Enough, reinforces that promise and expands on it.
Singer and guitarist Eva Hendricks, her drummer brother Sam Hendricks, guitarist Spencer Fox, and bassist Dan Shure keep their brand of guitar pop simple. For Young Enough, the four bandmates (the Hendricks siblings have known Fox and Shure since they were kids in middle school) pushed themselves to be open and exposed, revealing themselves through their music. They encouraged each other to write as much as possible and to steer away from an exact repeat of Guppy. That developmental approach paid off.
Young Enough, produced by Joe Chiccarelli, finds Charly Bliss at a more confident and mature place as a band. The group often juxtaposes dark lyrics in upbeat songs, combining heavy subject matter with light, sugar-coated melodies. Hendricks’ lyrics on Young Enough tackle serious subjects, notably her experience in an abusive relationship. Because of this ugly situation, Hendricks said that her self-confidence took a hit, especially when it came to songwriting. But she persevered and came out on the other side of that trauma, refreshed and empowered.
There's plenty of synth-pop flair to Young Enough, but it never buries the grunged-out, electric buzz that coursed through Guppy. Hendricks' own fortitude comes through clearly on tracks like “Bleach,” “Hard To Believe” and “Chatroom,” the later making clear references to the toxic relationship she endured. Similarly, “Hurt Me,” also originates from her pain, but despite the brutal emotions, the band’s approach on the song is restrained. The significance of the bleak subject matter is punctuated by the song’s placement on the album. The tougher tunes are lined up towards the album’s end, as if Charly Bliss used the first half of Young Enough to set a scene before dropping an emotional hammer.
Elsewhere, opening number “Blown To Bits” is pure energy, a sweet and crunchy blast that sounds like a fusion of the Bangles and the Breeders. That song's musical bookend, “The Truth,” closes Young Enough with a similarly retro yet totally contemporary take on Eighties and Nineties guitar-driven pop.
“Capacity” combines synths, big drums, and electric guitars into another honeyed confection, while a pounding rhythm punches its way, like a heartbeat, through the album’s title track. There's a bassline inspired by Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” weaving through “Chatroom," and “Camera” adds a splash of classic power pop.
There's honest and cathartic subject matter that lies within the very catchy melodies on Young Enough. It's an album that feels intensely personal to Charly Bliss; Eva Hendricks has a lot to say as a songwriter and she lands her lyrical blows like a heavyweight boxer. Artfully straddling both the punk and pop side of the spectrum, Charly Bliss is a band with boundless promise.
Listen to a new FUV Live concert with Charly Bliss, recorded at Rockwood Music Hall, on Monday, July 8, at 8 p.m. on 90.7, also streaming online. Charly Bliss open for Chvrches at Radio City Music Hall on July 11 and headline their own show at Bowery Ballroom on July 12.