Some music fans live and die for a towering guitar solo or thunderous drum fill. Me? I’m a swine for simplicity. I sip finely-crafted pop hooks like red wine, inhale sweet harmony and believe some of the world’s greatest guitar solos have only three or four notes.
By my standards, Brooklyn quartet Charly Bliss’s 2019 release Young Enough ought to be album of the year, a next-generation power pop record with all the hallmarks of ’80s music at its most yearning, but lyrically centered in the here and now.
The album’s best songs are built on that driving bass drum and bass guitar “thump-thump-thump” that I’m fairly certain is also the exact cadence of an adolescent’s heartbeat at the exact moment they fall in love. Over that backbeat, you also get soaring synths and just-right guitar work, while vocalist Eva Hendricks sings about beautiful boys, heartbreak and having your credit card stolen only to have someone use it to buy a camera in California. “$556 will get you almost nowhere,” she sings like a broke millennial.
Elsewhere, Hendricks sings, “He’s beautiful and I’m annoyed,” on “The Truth,” adopting all of the mall-punk attitude of The Go-Go’s, and “I’m kissing everything that moves, I’m kissing anything that takes me far away from you,” on “Hard to Believe,” a born-on-the-spot classic and late contender for best song of the decade.
“The songs I gravitate toward tend to be pretty high stakes lyrically,” Hendricks tells me from the van as Charly Bliss pulls out of Vegas on their way to L.A. “We’re leaving Las Vegas,” she jokes.
The band loves The Killers — they’re known for covering The Killers’ mega-hit “Mr. Brightside” — and Hendricks stands by her childhood love of Hannah Montana. She’s kept a journal her entire life, something she continues to mine for lyrical inspiration.
“I am a pretty emotional person, and I always have been,” she says. Hendricks plays in Charly Bliss with her older brother and songwriting partner, Sam. The siblings grew up listening to music together. Sam introduced his sister to bands like Weezer, Blink 182 and Death Cab for Cutie, for whom the group opened last year at the Hult Center. “Those bands had a major influence on us,” she says.
Hendricks is grateful she went on to write songs with her brother. “Sam and I have been really close since we were really little,” she says. “I always loved to sing.”
Songwriting starts with the lyrics, she says, calling lyric writing the “most fulfilling aspect of being in a band.”
“If I’m writing the song I start with lyrics and work backwards to put melody to it. If my brother is writing, he’ll write melody and I’ll set lyrics to it,” she says.
Charly Bliss has a lot of ’80s touchstones, but Hendricks came to music from that decade later on in life. What she likes most about ’80s music is the melding of pop and rock music that was common at that time. Most of all, Charly Bliss tries to make their live show as cathartic as possible: no standing with crossed arms allowed.
Charly Bliss plays with Eugene’s The Shifts 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 5, at WOW Hall; $13 advance, $15 door, all-ages.