Putting the “power” in power-pop
Young Enough by Charly Bliss is, in many ways, a coming of age story. It’s a story about growing up and the death of innocence and reclaiming your sense of identity and self-worth in the face of adversity. It’s also a coming of age story for Charly Bliss themselves, as Young Enough is just their second album, serving as the follow-up to the band’s 2017 debut Guppy, heralded by many as a massive success. Young Enough builds on this foundation and supercharges it with flare, style and emotion.
The album begins and ends with vocalist Eva Hendricks, whose gripping lyrics steal the show throughout the record. The attitude and presence she commands while delivering clever and hard-hitting lines makes her stand out amidst Charly Bliss’s synth progressions and blazing guitar riffs. Her vocal style may not appeal to everyone, but her performance is excellent throughout the record and suits the style perfectly.
Hendricks’ skillful lyricism is on display in some of the album’s best and most thematically relevant tracks, “Bleach,” “Hurt Me” and the title track “Young Enough.” In some capacity, these three songs address the themes of experiencing pain, lost love and abuse, which culminate in Hendricks’ transformation into who she is now while reflecting on her younger, more naïve self.
But none of this is to say that she lost her bravado and charm during that journey. “I’m f–ing joy and I hemorrhage light,” she tells us during “Bleach.” That song, in particular, stands out as the album’s best and most powerful, detailing Hendricks’ experience in an abusive relationship. But she is strong in the face of overwhelming adversity. The last line of the song, “Every day I thank the moon and stars/ that I was born a girl” is an affirmation of identity and self-love in spite of all that she’s been through.
The title track sees Hendricks reflecting both on the love that she’s lost and her younger self. “Nobody knows you, the weight of your trust/ how I crushed and consumed you and loved you too much” she sings towards the end of the song. The song paints a hauntingly powerful image of young love lost.
“Hurt Me” seems thematically tied to “Bleach” dealing with similar emotions and experiences. Hendricks once again provides poignant lyrics that stick in the listener’s mind: “Eyes like a funeral/ mouth like a bruise/ veins like a hallway/ voice like a wound.”
Young Enough is filled with fun, catchy indie tunes that disguise the often-dark, somber nature of Hendricks’ lyrics. This dissonance makes for a fun and engaging dynamic throughout. Guitarist Spencer Fox offers catchy, foot-stomping riffs on tracks like “Blown to Bits,” “Under You” and “Hard To Believe.” The band melds core rock elements with a heavy dose of synthesizer and dream pop influences to form a quintessentially indie sound.
Musically, Young Enough doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor does it have to. It’s stylistically consistent with its genre contemporaries. Its up-tempo songs and perpetually catchy riffs probably translate well when played live. However, the arrangement of the album can be a bit stale at times, as the band plays it safe and rarely takes chances musically. The result is a consistently strong product, but it does leave something to be desired when compared to Hendricks’ masterful lyricism.
Ultimately, Young Enough is a strong follow-up to the band’s 2017 debut. It builds on what came before, and above all else, it serves as a platform for Hendricks to truly step into her own as a frontwoman and songwriter. Musically this record can be a bit safe at times, but there is no questioning the phenomenal lyrical and thematic elements that Hendricks has crafted. With just two albums of material under their belt, it’s hard not to be excited about what Charly Bliss might come up with next.