Charly Bliss – ‘Young Enough’

By Tom Walsh

“The best emotional releases are crying and dancing, so it makes sense to me to marry the two.” It only needs one sentence from Charly Bliss’ Eva Hendricks to eloquently sum up the band’s sophomore record ‘Young Enough’.

To some it may be seem like a flippant attitude. It could be misconstrued as saying that if you plaster a smile across your face, all the demons can just melt away. However, there is credence to Hendricks’ sentiment. The Charly Bliss vocalist carries a mantra in ‘Young Enough’ of “well, fuck it”, and channels all the negative energy into captivating pop songs.

What it culminates in is a cleverly-written, emotive record that paints an image of a smiling Hendricks with the backdrop of a world burning. ‘Young Enough’ is borne out of pain, inspired by a past abusive relationship and, at times, it can be a difficult as Hendricks pens some deeply personal and, frankly, dark lyrics.

However, through the trauma comes a cathartic liberation. The opener of ‘Blown To Bits’ is drenched in sarcasm as Hendricks mourns that it “breaks my heart to see you blown to bits”. It feels like a knowing smile – to stand back and watch everything around you fall apart but, inside, be quite content that it’s now over.

There are nods to Charly Bliss’ earlier work with both ‘Under You’ and ‘Camera’ picking up the reins of the upbeat indie rock demonstrated on debut album ‘Guppy’. However, ‘Young Enough’ provides much more depth and delves into much darker and personal spaces, most notably on the title track.

Hendricks’ incredibly raw lyrics take you into the mind of the infatuated and simultaneously helpless. It is the tale of young love going sour, and getting trapped into something you know is wrong. The manipulation of abusive partners that sew the seeds of doubt are exposed with Hendricks’ words; “nobody knows you, the weight of your trust / how I crushed and consumed you and loved you too much”.

The theme continues in the synth-led confessional of ‘Hurt Me’. It feels almost defiant as Hendricks whispers “you need me like a parachute / empty-hand, facing death / overthrow yourself to me” before pleading “you don’t wanna hurt me”.

Both tracks are stunning in their own way. Understated yet powerful, they depart from the upbeat tone of the record. It’s the willingness to explore these topics and approach them so eloquently that makes Hendricks one of the most fascinating and exciting lyricists in indie rock at the minute.

Charly Bliss’ knack of creating instant pop hits is also undeniable. Lead single ‘Chatroom’ could’ve been picked out of the top 40 from the 1990s thanks to the uplifting beat and harmonised vocals. Beyond the ear candy hooks, however, Hendricks mocks the absurdity of the burden of proof for sexual assault victims – “a smoking gun equivalent, a measure of proof / as if your heart could stand the bullet if it wasn’t the truth”.

‘Hard To Believe’ is also wrapped in a similar emotive state with the upbeat pop riffs surrounding Hendricks wondering whether it is even worth hoping any longer, when everything turns to be a lie.

However, as the Charly Bliss vocalist says herself – emotion can be released by crying and dancing, and ‘Young Enough’ will evoke both at the same time. It may in essence be a deeply sad record, but it is also the ultimate “fuck you”, and still one you’ll be screaming out on a dancefloor.

TOM WALSH

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