Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Charly Bliss – Heaven

Artist named Charli/y wants to go back to 1999…


Julian Axelrod: My aversion to scratchy-voiced ’90s revival rock made me slightly skeptical of Guppy, but “Heaven” smashes a pie in the face of my expectations. The hooks are sharper, the riffs are gnarlier, and the quiet-loud tension delivers a bigger catharsis when they rip into another barrage. There’s an obvious irony to a song called “Heaven” that sounds like a slow descent into hell, but Eva Hendricks’s sugar-high drone offers brief moments of salvation amidst the carnage. It’s a fresher, bolder take on grunge, suggesting an alternate universe where Toadies ruled the decade instead of Nirvana. Maybe Charly Bliss isn’t reviving rock’s past, but positioning themselves as figureheads of rock’s future.

Jibril Yassin: Charly Bliss work in a genre full of hundreds of underrepresented bands whose entire discographies are currently languishing in a landfill or, worse, a power-pop fan’s record collection. What’s made them stand out is their endless energy and talent for crafting incredibly catchy songs with hooks and guitar riffs better than your ’90s fave. On “Heaven,” Eva Hendricks floats above the maelstrom of heavy guitars, opting to avoid the emotional bluntness that defined her Guppy lyrics to offer something akin to domestic bliss with a loved one. It’s the best slow dance ballad the Angus soundtrack never got. 

Katherine St Asaph: The Wholesale Meats and Fish to Guppy‘s Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack, a dispatch from a world where the former album is so canonical nobody needed to look it up. If only that were our world and there was an abiding scene, maybe something like Burger Records without the teenage-dirtbag skew. (If there is, please correct me, with audio links.) Also, a band that knows their appeal, whether served sugary or crunchy; when I saw them play in Brooklyn earlier this year, they announced to a roaring crowd (paraphrased) “This is a song about a CRUSH!” (In an alternate world, Carly Rae Jepsen is the third frontwoman of Veruca Salt. Discuss.) Extra point for the “daughters and daughters and daughters” bridge, as feminist as anything that’ll get credit for it this year.

Katie Gill: Since Weezer’s devolved into complete and utter parody, I’m glad that Charly Bliss has taken over their rulers-of-college-radio title. This song is a joy! The pounding grunge-ish chords contrast perfectly with Eva Hendricks’s childish, lilting voice. It’s an amazing combination that the structure of the song flatters WONDERFULLY.

Taylor Alatorre: That skyward-looking chorus, a case of truth in advertising, is really all you need. The zigzagging, Speedy Ortiz-esque guitar lines can be appreciated on their own terms, but they seem to exist in a separate dimension from the rest of the song; something had to fill all that empty space. As someone raised on wordy, shouty punk, there was a time when this vague, shadowy lyricism would have gotten on my nerves, but it suits the pensive mood, and the gut-punch line about daughters lends a dash of meaning to the formlessness.

Vikram Joseph: For a song called “Heaven,” this feels more like a queasy purgatory — closer to the sludgy, soured-in-the-sun grunge of Kyle Gilbride’s half of a Swearin’ album than the sugar rush of earlier Charly Bliss singles. It ransacks a different section of the ’90s alt cupboard to Guppy, and although Eva Hendricks’ Kim Deal sing-speak impression in the middle eight is a nice diversion, “Heaven” is certainly less fun for it (although, what could possibly be as fun as “Westermarck”?). Like Swearin’, Charly Bliss really bloom when they fuse sweet and sour into an acerbic confection, but the sweetness never turns up here, and it doesn’t feel nearly hyper enough. I guess this is growing up.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: It’s all about the swing of the chorus, the most effective bit being Eva Hendricks’s delivery of the titular line. “Now that I’m in heaven,” she sings, sounding absolutely elated as her voice drifts into space, and it’s only the second time around that she comes back down to earth to complete her thought: “…with you.” It’s a simple but affecting portrait of love’s all-consuming nature, how the feelings that arise from being with someone can be more exciting than that actual someone. This frenetic, love-struck energy balloons in the bridge, with Hendricks declaring that she’ll fill her house with “daughters and daughters and daughters.” “Heaven” may not be one of Charly Bliss’s catchiest songs, but it does have some of their best songwriting, and they’re as charming as ever.

Ian Mathers: In the ranks of songs titled “Heaven,” this one isn’t going to beat out the Talking Heads, Emeli Sandé, or the Psychedelic Furs, but that is a pretty high set of bars to pass. Charly Bliss’s sweet roar is still a perfectly great take on the subject, though; here Heaven is a certainty, the feeling of assured bliss, of not being able to lose, of not even being here at all. Which ranks it above, say, Bryan Adams.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Unlike certain guitar groups that have touched on the subject in recent years, Charly Bliss seem unconcerned with heaven as anything but a symbol for the pure rush of new love. As such, the song is lyrically thin — nothing sticks except for the daughters of the bridge. Yet Hendricks’s vocal performance and the grungy work the rest of the band puts in more than make up for it. It’s nothing special in the world of grungy crush-pop indie — maybe not even the best version of this song we’ve covered in the past few weeks, tbh — but good enough to be deeply re-listenable.

Alfred Soto: The sweet abrasion caused by those intro harmonies call the Breeders to mind, but Charly Bliss has elementary pleasures in mind, and damn, are they good at them. Received fun is still fun.

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