Charly Bliss—In Pursuit of Joy

Charly Bliss has had a wild ride these past six months. The band, comprised of siblings Eva and Sam Hendricks, Spencer Fox, and Dan Shure, formed in 2011 in Brooklyn and has since released two powerhouse albums, 2017’s Guppy and Young Enough, released earlier this year. Upon the debut of their sophomore album, the band began touring the continent nonstop, joining acts such as Pup and CHVRCHES, including a show at Radio City Music Hall that Eva Hendricks referred to as “iconic and mind-blowing.” On October 30th, the band released a surprise EP titled Supermoon, comprised of songs written around the same time as Young Enough. Suffice it to say, they’ve been keeping busy. 

Charly Bliss has grown up on music. Eva and Sam Hendricks grew up in Connecticut, each of them were encouraged to pursue different forms of lessons. Eva Hendricks says of the experience; “I think of Sam’s musical abilities as superpowers, like, he’s super smart when it comes to theory, and as a performer, he’s played so many genres—jazz, classical—everything. I had piano lessons, and certainly did a lot of voice training and things like that. For me on my end, the most interesting thing is how things in your life build. I took piano growing up and thought that I was never going to use it again. I thought it was stuffy and boring, and now as an adult I feel so grateful that my parents forced me to do that.” Hendricks states that her parents always secretly hoped that their children would form a band, as well, which may have informed their influence upon their young lives. The Hendricks children would go on to meet their fellow bandmate Spencer Fox in high school and began collaborating on music then. This explains the success of the group at such a young age—Eva Hendricks is only 26 years old.

Hendricks is a force of nature. Her voice on Young Enough has matured, moving flawlessly into a more polished version of the same explosive, sugar coated power that guides the narrative of the album. Anyone who listens to Charly Bliss’ full discography will notice the difference in tone between it and Guppy—the music has changed, refined, and moved in a much more pop centric direction. It’s a surprise to listen to, but it shouldn’t be. It feels natural to listen to, as if suddenly the listener is in the same room, and you’re witnessing this group having so much fun that you feel lucky to even be there. But for Hendricks, the process hasn’t felt as fun as the product. “I think the most wonderful thing that came out of making Guppy was realizing that I was being really hard on myself. At a certain point had to give up that mentality and be proud of myself and admit to myself that I was good at it, and that I should start to enjoy it. I’ve had to learn to let myself enjoy making music and not be scared that it was bad, or scared that it wasn’t going to work. I think we just came into Young Enough with a lot more confidence and that’s just a better place to be writing from. I think for me, experience was a big thing, and learning to trust myself a bit more.”

When it comes to the musicality changing so much between the two records, the band agrees that it was, indeed, natural. Prior to its release in 2011, Guppy had spent five years being worked and reworked meticulously, to the point that when the album came out and Charly Bliss began touring with it, the record had lost some of its initial sheen. For such a young group, it makes sense that the band’s personal music interests changed so drastically in that time period. Hendricks states that these days, the band “Only listens to pop music in the van. We love Taylor Swift, we love Lorde, we listened to a lot of Superorganism while making Young Enough… Something that was so important to us from the beginning is that we didn’t want to make the same record twice, and that will always be true for us.”

Young Enough carries weight in a lot of ways. Upon an initial listen, one may be mostly caught up in the catchy, ear wormy hooks and the feel good melodies, but when one goes deeper with this record, you find that the lyrics have a much darker tone to them. It’s a time capsule in a way, a lesson written into each song. In the single “Capacity,” Hendricks sings, “I used to think one man could fill me up, but now I know that if I’m always stuck obsessed with somebody else, distracting myself from looking at myself.” The song is about growing up anxious, ambitious, and seeking the distractions life can offer in the form of other people. Hendricks isn’t shy to speak about how this album was influenced by bad relationships she has experienced, owning the lessons she has learned. “I was wrestling a lot with what it means to grow up, and the kind of person I want to grow into being… I think I also was forgiving myself for having a rough couple of years. I was in a series of really difficult relationships but in particular, one that was really sexually abusive. I think it took a long time to admit that to myself or anyone in my life, and I was able to confront that through songwriting. I was able to decide if those experiences were going to make me depressed or hurt, or if it was going to make me into a more hopeful person. It’s a really personal record and I feel proud of it.” 

Charly Bliss truly is a band that embodies the music they put into the world. They’re fun and young and full of promise, but they’re serious about their direction. They’re pursuing joy on their terms, and we’re all just beneficiaries of the work.