- by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date: Label:
Some music is designed for quiet contemplation and rigorous beard-stroking but that isn’t the kind of music made by Brooklyn’s Charly Bliss. The four-piece make energetic, unashamedly upbeat power pop-come-bubble-grunge. Tonight they’re throwing a party in celebration of their second album, Young Enough. Turns out, Charly Bliss know how to throw a pretty great party.
There are a lot of amazing punk bands around at the moment, particularly female punk bands. If you haven’t seen the likes of Dream Nails, The Baby Seals, and ILL then you really need to. You’ll need to add London’s Big Joanie and their fiery “sistah punk” to your ‘must hear’ pile too.
Bassist Estella Adeyeri sips on “Diane Abbott tinnies” as the trio treat us to a set of feminist punk infused with friendship, sisterhood and DIY passion. ‘Token’ kicks things off, vocalist/guitarist Stephanie Philips and Adeyeri upping the sense of urgency with some great ping-ponging, call-and-response vocals.
The three-piece sound satisfyingly raw and immediate; Philips’ spidery guitar lines and Chardine Taylor-Stones Mary Chain-esque drumming keep the sound suitably taut. ‘Used to Be Friends’ and ‘How Could You Love Me?’ are both insanely catchy, the latter indulging the band's passion for 60’s girl groups. Thurston Moore’s a fan (he put out their debut album) and you will be too.
You can feel the energy from the moment Charly Bliss step out on stage. Vocalist Eva Hendrix acts like a musical conduit, channelling the band's giddy pop-punk vibes into one of the most excitable and enthusiastic performances I’ve seen for some time.
“I feel so tired/ I can’t believe this is it” she sings on the Springsteen-meets-bubblegum punk of ‘Blown to Bits’ “it’s gonna break my heart to see you blown to bits”. It’s telling that I apparently mishear the lyric as “excited” rather than “tired”.
The whole band is energised yet it’s Hendrix that takes things to the next level; clenching her teeth in pure excitement as she bounces up-and-down. The crowd is fully charged too. I swear the guy in front of me doesn’t stop pogoing until the end of the set, sweating and lapping up every moment. “This is so crazy” a genuinely ecstatic Hendrix tells us “we love you!”
The set is full of old and new material yet everything is met with applause and enthusiasm. ‘Ruby’ expertly channels the bands inner Weezer while the punky ‘Hard to Believe’ and the Breeders-esque ‘Westermarck’ bounce around my head for days afterwards. The blissful melodies designed to set up camp in your cranium.
Hendrix makes every effort to connect with assembled, sweaty mass in front of her. “If you don’t know the words yet” she says before plying new track ‘Under You’ “make them up and shout them back at me”. She means it and the audience obliges (or at least pogo along in approval).
The whole show feels like something of a celebration so it seems only right when a cake is carried to the front for guitarist Spencer Fox’s 26th birthday. After a quick birthday sing-along, Hendrix picks up some extra drum sticks and throws herself into a beatific ‘Chatroom’.
The inevitable encore brings a fairly straight but no less well-received cover of The Killers ‘Mr Brightside’ and the appropriately-titled ‘Love Me’. It’s pretty obvious the Headrow House crowd love Charly Bliss to bits. Hendrix hasn’t stopped smiling and I don’t think we have either.
Make no mistake, Charly Bliss make pop music. Pop-punk and bubble-grunge yet undeniably pop. This, of course, is no bad thing. The new album sounds particularly polished but live it’s the sweaty, urgent energy of the performance and the insatiably catchy hooks that urge you to join the party.
Much of it wouldn’t sound out of place on a High School teen drama but that’s kind of the point. This is music about celebrating and embracing your youth (whether you think it’s behind you or not). Honestly, if you go and see Charly Bliss live and don’t smile then I’ll be seriously worried about you. The quiet contemplation and rigorous beard-stroking can wait for another night.