Charly Bliss and Pop Anxiety

Charly Bliss photographed by Michael Lavine

“Everytime I leave for tour I think I’m gonna die”

-Charly Bliss, Under You

There is no band like Charly Bliss. Despite wearing their Weezer influences on their sleeves in 2017’s Guppy, there was an undeniable energy to the four piece power-pop group from New York. Anchored by vocals from singer Eva Hendricks that sounds as if she’s about to burst into a joyful sob at any moment, the album bounced through 10 tracks detailing heartbreak, fear and fun.

It’s on the albums 7th track DQ where Charly Bliss’ vision comes to fruition. Following up the song Ruby, which details Eva’s relationship with her therapist, DQ seems to disregard all the advice a therapist would give their client. Opening a song with as hard hitting a lyric as “I laughed when your dog died” is as attention grabbing as any lyric can be. But DQ isn’t a song about shocking the listener, it’s about living through the fear of stagnating in the place you are. Take the hook:

“I’m four years above sixteen / I bounced so high I peed the trampoline / I’m too sad to be mean / I’m gonna end up working at Dairy Queen”

Being 20 myself until very recently, working a complete dead end service job, these lines immediately jumped out and grabbed me by the shoulders. So, naturally, I became obssessed with them and had to consume everything they ever made.

It’s on the groups sophmore LP Young Enough that it becomes clear the band has something to say and is here to stay.

Hearing Young Enough sounds like a group using pop to work through the anxieties of everyday life. From the first track Blown to Bits (a track about the fear of everything you love disappearing in a catclysmic event) this is absolutely clear. We then move into Capacity, which touches on the feelings of being too full to of emotions to be able to take anything else in. But also the bridge of the song is super clear in what the band was going for:

“I was raised an East Coast witch like
Doing nothing’s sacrilegious
Triple overtime ambitious
Sentimental, anxious kid
I was raised an East Coast witch like
Doing nothing’s sacrilegious
Triple overtime ambitious
Sometimes nothing is delicious

-Charly Bliss, Capacity

The life of a New Yorker being confronted with the idea of doing nothing doesn’t track here. That in what so many consider to be a center of art, doing nothing is akin to a cardinal sin.

On paper, Young Enough would be a heart breaking album about dealing with the anxiety and pressure of simply being alive. But it’s not heart breaking. Emotional? Yes. Powerful? Yes. But it won’t emotionally wreck the listener. If only because of the fun pop sound that the album takes and completely harnesses.

And in a sense, isn’t that what a large part of pop music is? Take heartbreak, anxiety, and depression but make it fun. The world that Charly Bliss brings the listener into is one where you can scream your feelings in the rawest way but still have your friends backing you up with fun melodies and bouncy drums. And in a way, that’s what we need sometimes. Not to drown in misery but to rejoice in the pain of it all.

So next time you’re feeling anxious, hopefully it’s the style of pop anxiety. Where even though the feelings are overwhelming and terrible, you can dance and rejoice right through it.

“Spitting me out and I should say something nice?
I’m fucking joy and I hemorrhage light”

-Charly Bliss, Bleach

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