There is something anxious in Eva Hendricks’ voice when she sings as Charly Bliss. It’s a feeling that is unmistakable. You feel pressurized, like you either have no control over what you are saying or are restricting yourself so much you can’t even flinch. In Charly Bliss’ new album Guppy this absolute anxiousness is as much of a street marker as all of those shitty suburban strip malls and terrible first kisses that so brilliantly map out the album.
Guppy as an album, and as a world, opens up into a place of nostalgia. It’s homage to the ‘90s. Each track is tight and ultra fast. Hendricks sings with a tone that is sugary sweet; it’s so loud and so bright it gives you an instant head rush. When matched with the bright pop punk riffs and lightning fast drumming, the record feels like watching old Nickelodeon shows way too late at night. It is a record that is at its best when you’re at your most uncomfortable.
The images are stark: Most notably on “Westermarck” we hear sticky and sweaty lyricism about cousins kissing. As the song plays out, the story unfurls: Hendrick talks about how weird and horrible to be in your early 20s. The track is met with grueling bass and one of the album’s many guitar solos. The vocals in the track are looped, Hendricks sings with ennui in her voice on one layer and in the second, she repeats the song title, over and over again. In “Ruby,” a song that originally came out as a single a little over a year ago the anxiety comes back. This time in the form of feeling “too stupid to stay and too freaked out to drive.” The song also includes lines about passing out on the subway and checking in with a bad boyfriend before trying to make plans. One track later we hear “DQ,” which feels like a fuck you to someone who hurt Hendricks but is also simultaneously an open discussion of insecurity. It’s a song about peeing yourself on the trampoline. About wanting to be a kid but feeling constantly bombarded and genuinely freaked out by the future.
Guppy is bleak nostalgia. It pays homage to the very best music of the 90s and early 2000s but done in a way that never feels trite. This record is honest. It’s a confessional piece of music told through by a band that is the very essence of getting covered in green slime à la Kid’s Choice Awards. Charly Bliss’ world isn’t a fun one but it’s one you will somehow never want to leave.
Guppy is available now. Keep up with Charly Bliss here.