Charly Bliss-Young Enough: Album Review

Charly Bliss have me thinking back to this quote from Todd on Bojack Horseman: “Sometimes I feel like my whole life is just a series of loosely-related wacky misadventures.”  To which Diane explains: “I think that’s just what being in your 20’s is.” You would think that a song that opens with the line “Someone used my card to buy a camera in California” would ponder that person on the other end, think about what drove them to this point, and maybe see the narrator projecting their own ideas and anxieties onto them, but Eva Hendricks instead quite literally sings “Everything is coming, not sure what I should be learning from it.”  She feels some vague melancholy, and mentioning that $566 is all they could’ve gotten maybe some lack of self worth, but at the end of the song, this opening and closing motif feels like a loosely related side plot.

Young Enough as a whole is zany and dynamic, letting apt descriptions of youth and wacky misadventures seep into the mix in equal measure.  “Karate lessons, reality shows” offer shorthand to suburbs nostalgia, whereas “we’re young enough to believe it should hurt this much” describes underdeveloped emotional intelligence that could fall anywhere on the pre-24 age spectrum.  It’s not necessarily the Frank Ocean approach to memory through cars and specific scenes, but the memory bank is similarly fluid, the band at times seemingly unable to parse what’s important and what is.

The sonic approach matches some of the teenage leanings.  With buoyant synths and driving guitars in tow, Bliss sounds somewhere between “Celebrity Skin is the most important album in rock history” and “Hounds of Love is the most important album in rock history.”  Their campy album cover could fit on the teenage bedroom walls that inspire their grab-bag sugar rush sounds.

The album is not entirely weightless, though.  Beneath the scheen lies occasionally harrowing material.  The lyric “I’m fucking joy and I hemorrhage light” perhaps makes sense of the fact that Hendricks is featured on PUP’s “Free At Last,” and then the album focuses in on one particularly damaging relationship.  If the opening batch of tunes operates as a suite about youthful attraction, inexperience, and the need to be liked by all, the final few tunes are almost like a breakup EP.  Single “Chatroom” rather pointedly takes down an abuser who others see as some sort of god, “I was fazed in the spotlight, his word against mine/Everybody knows you’re the second comin,” and the surrounding tunes log the fallout of this particularly jarring heartbreak.

Though the 20’s tend to feel like a series of fun, unrelated misadventure, they can also be a dangerous time, when youthful inexperience can meet drugs or relationships with more at stake than those of the teen years.  Charly Bliss is modeled on this, a fun band that captures darkness and maybe proves that these ‘unrelated’ happenings may indeed have more at stake than at first glance.

-Donovan Burtan

8/10

 

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