Charly Bliss: Guppy [Album Review]

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Charly Bliss
Barsuk Records [2017]

Fire Note Says: Charly Bliss’s debut LP Guppy finds the Brooklyn-based punks turning rock conventions on their heads and sewing together sugary-sweet grunge-pop rippers–and having a ton of fun doing it.

Album Review: The grunge revival has long been underway, but until now, the Speedy Ortizes, Courtney Barnetts and Sleater-Kinneys of the world have tended to steer clear of unabashed pop, typically opting for more trudgy, sludgy, fuzzed-to-the-max arrangements.

No longer. On their first full-length record Guppy, Charly Bliss signals that they’re happy to be the Pixies to their contemporaries’ Nirvana; the Killers to their contemporaries’ The Stokes. Yes, Charly Bliss is serious about their music, and yes, they’ve got something to offer that no other band in the scene today does. But they’re not going to let anything stop them from having fun, first and foremost. They’re the band that seems to be taking it just seriously enough.

Without sacrificing an iota of brute force, Guppy’s songs are instantly digestible, starting with the effortless “Percolator,” continuing through the energetic, synthy, cruising-down-the-highway rocker “Glitter” and finishing in style with the crunchy “Julia.” Charly Bliss serves up a steady stream of unforgettably catchy pop-rock hooks, shimmering choruses and enough drama and intrigue to satisfy listeners with even the hungriest appetites for the theatrical.

Listeners may initially find themselves tempted to write off lead singer Eva Hendricks’ voice as novel; frankly, and for better or worse (though nearly always for the better), she delivers a number of the record’s verses with the exact tone and affect one might expect from a haunted baby.

But those listeners would be woefully mistaken, as Henndricks makes it clear that she possesses subterranean, super-human talent, and, especially on the latter half of the record, she showcases her range, depth and raw vocal prowess. Hers is an explosive voice that is not to be trifled with; it’s certainly distinct, but it’s no more novel than–and deserves as much respect as–that of former Foxy Shazam front man Eric Nally or scratchy-voiced folk-punk Chuck Ragan.

Record closer “Julia” is a sludgy, dark, brooding song, firmly planted within the genre and fat with chunky chords and a marching bass, all squealing in pain under the yelps of Hendricks’ voice. But it’s record-opener “Percolator,” that is most memorable–especially when Hendricks belts, “I’m gonna die in a getaway car.” It’s a chorus so soaring, and so instantly addicting, that listeners will want nothing more than to climb in, defy death and burn down the highway in the passenger seat right alongside their newfound grunge-pop saviors, Charly Bliss.

Key Tracks: “Percolator” / “Westermarck” / “Julia”

Artists With Similar Fire: Speedy Ortiz / Hop Along / Screaming Females

Charly Bliss Website
Charly Bliss Facebook
Barsuk Records

– Reviewed by Dylan Gallimore

Dylan Gallimore
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