Charly Bliss’s 2017 debut Guppy was the kind of alt-rock charmer that keeps revealing secrets and pleasures beyond its tough, shiny exterior. The songs mixed chugging Breeders riffs and vintage-Weezer poo-metal, a popular retro-rock formula they nailed with uniquely uncanny precision. But the big revelation was helium-voiced singer Eva Hendricks’ ability to expunge deep anxieties while still seeming sharp and in-control. “Ruby” was a Nirvana-strength ode to her shrink; “Glitter” was a radiant guitar-gusher about the emotionally crinkly subject of dating someone who weirded you out by reminding you of yourself. On “Scare U” she pipped “I don’t wanna scare you/I don’t wanna share you,” and you got the sense she’d probably find a way to shrug it off no matter how scary or shary things actually got.
The second Charly Bliss LP has plenty of bright, bracing power-pop: “Hard to Believe” and Bleach” are New Pornographers-worthy in their quick and easy sleekness, while the That Dog-y “Camera” riffs cleverly on identity theft. It also sees the band leaning a little heavier on New Wave synthiness that was present but inchoate on Guppy. That somewhat moodier texture fits the album’s difficult subject matter. “I’m at capacity/I’m spilling out of me/Desecrated and complacent,” Hendricks sings over the mechanical beat and keyboard blips of “Capacity.” On “Chatroom,” she processes the aftermath of a sexual assault, turning pain into rage.
Young Enough is poppier than its predecessor but not always as immediately catchy. Sometimes that feels intentional and it can often be a good thing, often slowing down the band’s torpedo tunefulness to negotiate trauma in real time. It’s the mark of a band deepening the feelings of real personal struggle beneath the churning guitars and sheer melodies.