Published May 09, 2019Turning trauma into triumph is not a new concept, but it's one that was occupying the mind of Eva Hendricks, lead singer of Brooklyn power-poppers Charly Bliss, as she was writing the songs that would become their new album, Young Enough.
The band's excellent second album is both a product of the turbulent times we're living in and Hendricks' newfound willingness to confront trauma head-on — throughout its writing, she was processing a sexual assault she experienced by someone she had dated.
"I didn't know how to feel [about the assault]," she tells Exclaim! in an interview over the phone. "I'd kind of not told anyone about it; I'd kept it inside, kind of pushed it out of my brain and avoided it. It felt really powerful writing about it."
That power translated into a more direct and dance-floor friendly collection of songs than Charly Bliss's debut, Guppy. Young Enough channels Hendricks' introspection into joy, as she casts off the weight both of her experience and the broader expectations she felt she needed to live up to.
While she calls "Chatroom" "the catalyst" for this transformation, and the album as a whole, its results are most apparent on "Capacity." Here, she invokes the mantra "It's got nothing to do with me," as she lets go of other people's problems and perceptions. Yet the track almost didn't make it out of the demo stage.
Hendricks originally wrote the song on her iPad, a new way of writing that she adopted partially due to the band's hectic touring schedule.
"For a month we were trying it and it wasn't feeling right, translating it out of my iPad to a full band setting," she says. "We were on the verge of giving up on it."
Producer Joe Chiccarelli heard something in the song and convinced them to keep working on it. Guitarist Spencer Fox suggested a different chord progression for the verse, while bass player Dan Shure wanted to "blow up" the chorus melody. The final result preserves the core of what Hendricks loved about the song, while paving a new, more communal way of working for the band.
The title track had a similar collaborative approach, this time with Hendricks' brother, drummer Sam Hendricks. She describes it as the record's centrepiece. It's also a partial mea culpa for Guppy, a record that, in part, charted her "tumultuous" first "real" relationship.
"I think there's a lot of dark humour or sarcasm in those songs. I was really frustrated," she says in hindsight. "But it's actually a privilege to have your first major relationship be with someone who really loves you, even though they probably can't get it together and neither can you… I think of that song is just like a marker of growth, which is kind of also how I see the whole album."
Musically, Young Enough leans more pop than the crunchy '90s riffs that typified Guppy. That's reflective of the band's evolving musical tastes, which came to encompass everything from Lorde to Superorganism. And while resilience in the face of adversity is the album's thematic throughline, its spirit is informed by Lorde's 2017 album Melodrama.
"She explored in such great detail this moment in her life," she says, noting that it captures a "crying while dancing" aesthetic that Hendricks finds incredibly cathartic. "It comes across as a very honest effort. I think that's something that lyrically I was thinking a lot about."
Young Enough is out May 10 courtesy of Barsuk Records.