Brooklyn power-pop outfit Charly Bliss deals in the stylings of nineties’ girl-fronted power pop bands: sugary sweet vocals layered over Warped Tour-worthy pop punk riffs. They haven’t escaped comparisons to bands like Veruca Salt or Letters To Cleo, and they won’t here either. But this niche of music – “angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion,” as described aptly in 10 Things I Hate About You – has received far less respect than it should have all these years.
Any type of entertainment deemed “girly” or otherwise dominated by young women gets treated with a shocking paucity of respect as art. Okay, maybe it’s not that shocking, given the genre’s post-Nineties trend toward pre-packaged Disney-fication. What makes Charly Bliss so enticing is that they’ve revived this style, adding their own dark humor and smarts to package it up for grown-ups. The macabre turns the lyrics can take balances out the sweetness of frontwoman Eva Hendricks’ vocals. Paired together, they’re brimming with irony and sarcasm – a Glossier-pink commentary on the reality of millennial womanhood.
There are moments where they deal directly with specific issues modern women face, most notably on “Scare U” when Hendricks sings “I wanna talk about it / But I don’t know what I mean / I don’t wanna scare you / I don’t wanna share you.” This is such a familiar scenario – girl meets boy, girl and boy start hooking up, girl really likes boy but doesn’t want to speak up about her emotional needs as to avoid appearing anything but “chill,” whatever that even means.
But most of the sardonic wit, and underlying meaning, exists in more unexpected places, when Charly Bliss plays on the cutesy images and tropes of nineties power pop bands. “Ruby” isn’t about an ex-girlfriend or the most popular girl in school – it’s about Hendricks’ therapist, an ode thanking her for helping Hendricks overcome a fear of fainting in public. The track “DQ” isn’t about ice cream – they kill off a dog in the first lines, and as a plot point in the song the restaurant doesn’t become anything fun, but rather a dreaded dead-end on the path to adulthood.
All in all, this album is a darkly comical twist on what you would expect an album with these sonic earmarks to broach. It showcases the real problems millennial women face; it’s not all fuckbois and unanswered texts, but also serious neuroses and existential ennui. Like a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down, Charly Bliss makes us face the serious stuff with a facade of glossy pop punk.
Charly Bliss play an album release show for Guppy at Baby’s All Right on May 18th.