Review: Charly Bliss @ Night People, Manchester

On the eve of the release of their second album, Charly Bliss played a giddy and joyous set in Manchester’s Night People, making the small venue their own.

Declaring the night the band’s “album release party”, frontwoman Eva Hendricks’ irrepressible energy and charm lit up the room.

The New York band is formed of Hendricks and her brother and drummer Sam, guitarist Spencer Fox, and bassist Dan Shure. Their sound is inspired by the best elements of 90s pop and grunge, creating something familiar but completely unique.

Hendricks’ one-of-a-kind voice cartwheels through their songs – alt-pop anthems that intertwine infectious guitar riffs with sharp, smart lyrics.

Their sound captures the overblown emotions of growing up but has the self-aware humour and perspective of someone who’s made it through the other side. 

The band’s glittering pop sheen and guitar hooks do nothing to mask the blatant, proud vulnerability of Hendricks’ songwriting – describing herself as “desecrated and complacent” over the chorus of Capacity and gleefully confessing “I cry all the time/I think that it’s cool/I’m in touch with my feelings!” on Percolator.

This wry contrast between the bouncy music and the authentic, idiosyncratic lyrics was best represented in the moment where Hendricks yelled “This song is about my therapist!” before the band launched into Ruby.

The band played the songs from their new album as well as from their 2017 release Guppy – an album which they apparently had to record twice, realising its serious, grungy sound wasn’t ultimately a fit and leaning in to the power of pop.  

And like all good pop music their songs speak to universal feelings – lovesickness, anxiety, and the weirdness and dissatisfaction of day to day life.

But they also describe a particularly feminine experience, with Hendricks embracing all the worst stereotypes that anyone could throw at a girl – boy-crazy, shallow, petulant, overemotional – both ironically and not.

She manages to make fun of these tropes while exposing the depth of emotion and introspection that lies behind them.

The band’s new album harnesses the pop genre even more, with the difference between the bright sounds and the sometimes-grim realities of the lyrics complementary rather than contrasting.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on Chatroom – which describes the violence of a sexual assault and finds something empowering, and danceable, in the darkness.

The band seemed overjoyed to be performing and their exuberant energy was mirrored in the crowd.

Their encore included a cover of The Killers’ Mr Brightside – a perfect send-off to their set of cathartic and anthemic pop songs. Dissatisfaction never sounded so fun.

Image courtesy of Ebru Yildiz, with thanks.

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