By Tyler McMaster
A few months back, I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across an ad for a band called Charly Bliss. They appeared to be a four-piece indie-rock band with a female lead singer rocking out on her Fender guitar. Critically acclaimed as comparable to Letters to Cleo, I instantly clicked on the attached sample of their mind-blowing music video. Switching over to Apple Music, I downloaded their debut album, “Guppy,” that was released on April 21.
To provide some context on the band: Charly Bliss is a four-piece power pop outfit from Brooklyn, NY and consists of lead singer and rhythm guitarist, Eva Hendricks, her brother Sam on drums/backing vocals, Spencer Fox on lead guitar/backing vocals and Dan Shure on bass/backing vocals.
It is evident these guys are a product of the music they were raised on. “Guppy” drips with the sweet, infectious sound of 90’s indie rock. Eva’s voice holds an almost childlike lilt, yet harbors a ferocity that swims alongside the bubblegum tide of endorphins, providing a memorable performance that sticks with you. Her cadence is very reminiscent of legends such as Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo) and the duo of Nina Gordon and Louise Post (Veruca Salt.)
Instrumentally, Charly Bliss is at the top of their game: simple, yet urgent and infectious song structures, nostalgic vocal melodies and harmonies that soar beyond the forests of your youth. These are not the songs of young apprentices trying their hand at the game; this debut is tight and methodical.
“Guppy” wastes no time in vying for your attention, with a strong opening of singles “Percolator,” “Westermarck” and “Glitter.” The energy is immediate with choruses that will remain lodged in your head for years to come and verses of pure saccharine goodness.
Hendricks is not playing around when it comes to lyrics, either. These songs are not the average fare of relationships and girlhood fantasies, but brutal and earnest reflections of love, mental illness and anxiety.
The pop in their sound hides most of the darkness present in their lyrics. From the genuine declaration of “I cry all the time, I think it’s cool / I’m in touch with my feelings” in “Percolator,” to the wounded clarity of “Am I the best? Or just the first person to say yes?” in the chorus of “Glitter,” Hendricks is not afraid of encouraging listeners to dig deep into her songs. In doing so, you may be faced with some of your own hidden truth. This makes her writing so endearing and personable.
What makes this album truly stand out from its contemporaries is its consistency throughout. The weaker songs still possess a staying power, physically shaking you awake. There are not many moments where this album slows down, yet when it feels the need to, it is natural. The energy is constant, ebbing and flowing up until the dreamy, grungy closer “Julia,” which fades out in ambient guitar fuzz.
Despite boasting a sound that has not been popular for 20 years, Charly Bliss is refreshing. They channel and nod to their inspirations while retaining a voice all their own. It offers an energetic escape from a lot of their more brooding contemporaries. If you have been looking for something that is easy to sing along with, but packs a decent punch, this is your band.
The band is currently on tour with indie darlings Wolf Parade and they will be releasing a companion comic book to the album in coming weeks.