Album Review: Charly Bliss – “Young Enough”
Posted: by The Editor
It wouldn’t be wrong to state that Brooklyn-based, alt-rock group Charly Bliss has completely and feverishly embraced the value of pop music, drenching their entire sophomore record, Young Enough, in its sound and presence. Almost as if they’re cycling through the 90’s grunge flare of their debut. Guppy, to flaunt and groove between the bubble-gum sweetness and new-wave tang of the height of 80’s pop, Charly Bliss know how to seamlessly transition from a strictly rock record to one that holds the roots of their classic sound but amplifies the brighter tones and colors that synth waves ride.
Riding off the high of their critically acclaimed and near-perfect debut, Guppy, pressure was blatantly put on the shoulders of the group as they navigated the choppy waters that came with releasing a second record that amounted to the same level of praise and success. Refusing to buckle, the group took the sophomore year syndrome and churned out, Young Enough, an album that is nothing short of labeling Charly Bliss as the Comeback Kid. It’s a risky, new direction splashing in pop’s waters that contains the same solidarity of Guppy but in a much peppier design.
It’s lead singer, Eva Hendricks’ voice, that tips the record over the scale of success. Young Enough doesn’t simply just lead with Hendricks’ distinguishable, squeaky-bright vocals, but it cranks them up. Throughout the entire 11-tracks, her voice is the embodiment of a sour then sweet sugar-coated candy that seduces with a bite. This thrives throughout the record, crafting synths and instrumentals that are almost custom-made to Hendricks’ pop-oscillating sound. One can’t help but to gravitate towards her insanely bright demeanor, even though, not unlike Guppy, her voice masks lyrics that have a heavier undertone, varying between “Bleach’s” “I’m fucking joy, and I hemorrhage light” to infectious-hit “Hard to Believe’s” “Tomorrow is coming, I know you don’t love me” to groove-inducing “Chatroom” that chronicles sexual assault to the album’s roaring-blue closer “The Truth’s” “40 years or days from now, I’d kill myself to cut you out” – a balancing act that seems to turn from yellow to gray after the album’s haunting interlude, “Fighting in the Dark.”
Zooming opener “Blown to Bits” creates an electric nostalgia of early-2000’s pop that pumps through a slow-burn to the rocky grit that Charly Bliss fans have come to love. “Capacity” teeters on the edge of the complexities and burn-out of wanting to save others and the reflection of Hendricks’ faults all while riding atop rumbling and glittering keys, sounding like a modern-day, 8-bit video game soundtrack. “Under You” is a pop-punk track that is predominantly led by booming drums that sprinkles in the nostalgia of Guppy-like Charly Bliss. The tune is fast-paced and all consuming, making it hard not to imagine Hendricks bunny-hopping to the beat across a stage as the crowd follows her every move. Even in more mellow tune, “Camera,” offering the rockier-edge that veteran fans adore, there’s something breezy about the track that comes from its scorching guitar execution.
But, surprisingly enough, it is title-track “Young Enough” that stands tall above the rest. Tapping in over five minutes long, the track embodies everything that Charly Bliss was, is, and strives to be going forward. It seizes the opportunity to craft a searing build-up of a defiant march about coming of age. It’s here where the direction towards pop shines, offering a more emotionally-charged attitude through the synths as Hendricks’ wavy voice tries, so helplessly, to keep a grasp on adolescence.
It’s no shock that Charly Bliss’ Guppy and Young Enough stand on opposite sides of the spectrum, but it is the resilience and determination of the group to expand their sound beyond the box their debut could’ve pushed them in that should be celebrated. In a world that continuously disposes of pop music, it is artists like Charly Bliss that reminds the music world why that genre is so vital for power and healing. Because, at the end of the day, Young Enough isn’t just a record that should be praised for the group’s ability to create seamless polar opposites, but it is a record that, through and through, proves music’s ability to recover and heal -pop music’s ability to recover and heal. And Charly Bliss killed it. They, truly, truly killed it.
Writer and philosopher Roger Scruton once stated, “The heart of pop culture is without doubt pop music. It has the greatest claim among the various styles of modern music to be the foundation of a shared way of life.” He’s right. Pop music isn’t just superficial or valueless. It isn’t something for critics to turn a nose up at in disdain. It isn’t an easy-pull for insults, bullying, and degradation even though it’s been treating as such. It breathes. It holds a voice. It leads trends, pop culture, and even transforms our future. Pop music is vital because it has a pulse, and that pulse keeps humanity alive. It keeps communities coming together. It keeps positive energy radiating. It keeps voices being heard. Pop music has seen some of the most significant artistic statements bubble from its genre. So, it’s safe to say that pop music is one of society’s greatest art forms. And, even though, it seems as though it’s becoming more and more difficult to see, it’s groups like Charly Bliss, and singers like Eva Hendricks who just get it, keeping the vitality of pop music alive and kicking.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great/ Phenomenal
Hope Ankney | @hope_ankleknee
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