Brooklyn power-pop band Charly Bliss impressed with their 2017 debut Guppy. Their energetic power-pop was indebted to the 1990s, with parallels to Weezer’s debut and Veruca Salt. But Guppy was a terrific album; the band’s excellent hooks, coupled with Eva Hendricks’ offbeat lyrics and distinctive, helium-tinged voice, allowing them to transcend their influences. Hendricks is joined in the band by her older brother, Sam Hendricks, guitarist Spencer Fox, and bassist Dan Shure.
Guppy was excellent, but repeating it would have led to a creative dead end – Charly Bliss successfully expand their sound with Young Enough, a more mature and nuanced record. There’s more diversity of moods and tempo, and synthesizers add a poppy sheen. The band wanted to acknowledge that they were fans of pop music, citing Lorde’s Melodrama, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Cars, and Fountains of Wayne as influences.
The title track was inspired by an LCD Soundsystem gig, and the groove based tune is different from anything else in the band’s catalogue. The brief and atmospheric ‘Fighting in the Dark’ is another step in a new direction, while songs like ‘Under You’ reprise the wonderfully constructed power pop from their debut.
Hendricks’ lyrics were notable for their honesty on Guppy – the most memorable line was “I bounced so high, I peed the trampoline” from the song ‘DQ’. On Young Enough, Hendricks takes her candour a step further, confronting an abusive relationship in which she was sexual assaulted. Standout song ‘Chatroom’ features the key line “I was fazed in the spotlight/ his word against mine.”
‘Hurt Me’ is built around an electric piano that could have come from a 1970s Supertramp record. It’s placed after ‘Chatroom’ on Young Enough and the songs are thematically paired. Where ‘Chatroom’ is joyfully defiant, ‘Hurt Me’ is sadly resigned, with an opening line that’s worthy of Paul Westerberg: “Come on, let’s get something wrong/Look into my face too long/Overthrow yourself to me.”
The potential of Young Enough is most fully realised with ‘Capacity’. It merges a poppy sheen with dirty guitars, and it’s topped off with typically unconventional yet potent imagery from Hendricks; “I’m at capacity, I’m spilling out of me,”
Guppy is still my favourite Charly Bliss record, but Young Enough is an excellent second installment in this young band’s almost impeccable discography. It opens up new horizons for the group, their vibrant personality injecting new life into the tired guitar pop genre.