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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 5/13/19

    Charly Bliss - Young Enough (Barsuk)

    Young Enough finds Charly Bliss departing from the alt-grunge style of their debut Guppy and retrofits them closer to '80's pop. The fuzzy guitars take a back seat, while keyboard synth loops and poppy hooks are brought into the spotlight, particularly on lead single "Capacity" and the chugging "Bleach." The musical shift has brought the band closer to their true self.

    Looking back on Guppy, singer Eva Hendricks told Stereogum that they didn't understand they were a pop band, saying, "We were really highlighting the aspects of our sound that make us a garage band, or a punk band, or an indie-rock band, and that's fine, but it's not who we are." Aided by producer Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, Spoon), one can hear that stylistic choice in a song like "Under You," which could easily have rocked out with sludgy droning guitars, but is stripped down to a poppy, bouncy Go-Go's song. The title track is a 5+ minute song with echoing arena drum crashes and a buzzy guitar that could have been unleashed at any moment, but rather, sounds like it will transition into something much lighter.

    Excavating their musical identity has allowed Hendricks' personal strife to flow freely as well. The ballad "Hurt Me" bluntly details her abusive relationship with the emotionally sung lyrics, "Eyes like a funeral, mouth like a bruise," while "Fighting in The Dark" is a slow, building Waxahatchee-like song, expressing a therapeutic comprehension of sexual assault.
    But the most powerful track on the album, and the most fun, is "Chat Room." Starting off deliberately and sarcastically, the song juxtaposes serious, inner emotions about Hendricks' abusive ex next to jovial, upbeat synth dance-y rhythms. It is only via the vessel of pure pop exuberance that she can express something so serious and personal. It is pop music that gives her power.

    Young Enough comes from a very raw and vulnerable place, as both the band and Hendricks herself discovered who they are and who they need to be. It is a declaration of the power gained from understanding that tragic, abusive events do not define you and are not your fault.  And that is the root of why this album needed to be made. Her inner turmoil could no longer be bottled up. It needed to be written down, sung, and shared with people; to get it out in the open; to make it real and tangible; to face it and move on out of a place of depression. And it works, because it is impossible to be depressed when seeing Charly Bliss play live, as they will at The Foundry on June 6th.
    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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