Finding the balance of familiarity by without sounding like a pastiche is hard to achieve. Charly Bliss perfected this as they unashamedly tapped into mid-90s nostalgia on their glorious debut, Guppy. It was a heady candy rush of three-minute songs that were throwbacks to 90s indie pop, laced with grunge and power-pop sensibilities (somewhere between Weezer, Veruca Salt and something that could fit on the Empire Records soundtrack). The quality was demonstrated through tight playing, insanely catchy melodies and personality, paired with Eva Hendricks’ quirky lyrics and singing style. Immediately, Charly Bliss felt at home with artists such as Alvvays, Japanese Breakfast, The Beths and Mitski – artists that have all made guitar music sound fresher than it has in years.
After a near-perfect debut, Charly Bliss have risen to the challenge of recreating the magic. Young Enough is a very different record to Guppy and they haven’t lost any of their charm.
The band have changed their sonic pallet, relying more on synths and dialing back the dizzying and crunchy guitars of Guppy. This seems to be due to their increased love of pop music and avoiding repetition. Guitars are used more sparingly on ‘Capacity’ — the album’s first single. A deep moog and spinning keyboard top-line combined with a drum machine has more in common with the power pop of the 70s (especially The Cars) than the 90s indie rock of Guppy. Eva’s lyrics are more direct, “I used to think one man could fill me up, but now I know that I’m always stuck. Obsessed with somebody else, distracting myself from looking at myself”. The slow-burning opener, ‘Blown To Bits’, has a heavy use of keyboards as Eva repeats, “it’s gonna break my heart to see it blown to bits”. Guitars creep back in on the second half.
The chiming guitars and the soothing backing vocals on ‘Camera’ show off the more polished production. Thankfully, the playful nature and character of Guppy still remains thanks to Eva’s delivery. On the stunning title track they put their spin on atmospheric and anthemic sing-alongs. The force of Eva passionately singing, “nobody knows you, the weight of your trust how I crushed and consumed you and love you too much” is a gut-wrenching moment that demonstrates her emotive vocals.
‘Under You’ has just as much energy as anything on Guppy and shows they’ve not completely abandoned their bubblegum-pop, punk side. Sam Kendricks’ drumming has the youthful punch of Danny Goffey on the early Supergrass albums, as the vibrant melody speeds along. On the recent single ‘Hard To Believe’ Eva grapples with moving on from a relationship she knows is no good for her — “I’m kissing everything that moves, I’m kissing anything that takes me far away from you, but I would rather eat than starve, I would rather kiss you hard, it’s not right”. The riffs and swirling keyboards give a formidable hook-filled backdrop.
Along with the brutal honesty about a toxic relationship, Eva goes even further on ‘Chatroom’, addressing an incident of sexual of assault. There’s a controlled anger as she repeats, “I wanna see you stripped down naked”. As the song opens up in the second half, the bridge suddenly sounds defiant as she sings, “I’m not gonna take you home, I’m not gonna save you no”. Taking a serious subject matter and making it both deeply moving and catchy shows how incredible Charly Bliss are. Eva described writing the song as a cathartic experience, and this comes across naturally.
Young Enough ends with a song called ‘The Truth’ where Eva proclaims, “kissing babies I’m alive, but I’m dead inside burying my face against the wall”. The speed at which she often delivers these truths makes it seem like she has a lot to get off her chest. She did that on Guppy, but this time she’s bolder and braver in the topics addressed. Every step of the way, the band play with the perfect amount of energy and passion. They step back to let Eva tell her story or rally round her when she needs it. There’s something about hearing how in sync they are that makes their music appealing. Charly Bliss are only two albums into their career and they’ve already established themselves as one of the cleverest and most loveable bands going. Young Enough expands on the brilliance of Guppy and is an absolute triumph.
Young Enough comes out on May 10th on Lucky Number