I’m very much a late ’90s kid. My formative years, music-wise, were spent in the poppy alt-rock splendor that was Save Ferris, Weezer, No Doubt, Letters to Cleo, and the like. Now, whenever a new band pops up that takes me back to those days, I can’t help but take notice.
When Charly Bliss’ debut album, Guppy, came out I was immediately captivated. The tracks all sound like they could’ve come from the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack – a favorite guilty pleasure – and Eva Hendricks’ voice would not have sounded out of place in a mid-90s SoCal ska band. The music is simple but catchy, with a thumping 4/4 enthusiasm that I remember from my own teenage years playing fuzzed-out guitar in the garage. Percolator, the lead single, crashes through its opening with a sneering guitar hook before Hendricks’ bubblegum voice drops in. The song lyrics range from teen-angsty – “I’m gonna die in a getaway car / I haven’t tried / But it sounds too hard” – to teen-edgy – “I’m not scared to lick the floor / ‘Cause I have sucked on something worse”. Yes, they’re solidly in high-school movie territory and not at all ashamed about it.
The odd opening verse in Black Hole, the fourth track on the album, turns out to be a mere excuse for Hendricks to get to the chorus and drive it home in the part of our mind that stores easily hummable riffs. I must have whispered “Take me on a date / Take me anywhere / Was I insane?” for hours after hearing the track the first time, to the dismay of my officemates.
The rest of the album is not dissimilar, with songs like Glitter – “Am I the best / Or just the first person / To say yes” is an amazing line – and Ruby as additional highlights on this fast-paced record. But it’s not just poppy nostalgia here. The album received an A from A.V. Club, a 7.8 from Pitchfork, and was included in the top-50-albums-of-2017-so-far lists by both SPIN and Stereogum, proving that underneath the bubblegum gloss there is substance to be found. I’m not quite sure where yet, but I don’t mind listening to the album a while more to find out.
Bonus video time! This track is not on Guppy, but I first discovered Charly Bliss through their cover of Blondie’s Heart Of Glass. Hendricks’ voice shines, as she squeals her way through the track in utter glee:
SUMMARY & RESULTS