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Guppy [Digipak]
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  • Recording information: Atomic Sound; Fancy Time Studio.
  • Intended or not, indie rock quartet Charly Bliss built some anticipation in the lead-up to their first album. It follows a pair of EPs and a string of high-profile live shows opening for acts such as Sleater-Kinny, Tokyo Police Club, and even Veruca Salt, a musical antecedent. The record also follows some scrapped efforts in the studio while the group struggled to find the right balance of their shambolic rock style and tendency toward bright pop hooks. They finally decided the two could co-exist and settled into a gritty power pop for their full-length debut, Guppy. Whatever work they did on perfecting -- or unleashing -- their sound, they found a distinctive one, despite its patent roots in the '90s alt-rock of bands like Weezer and the aforementioned Veruca Salt. That's thanks in large part to lead singer Eva Hendricks, who sports a particularly chirpy, youthful voice that both contrasts and perfectly suits her gruffer accompaniment. While her delivery is highly melodic, bordering on theatrical at times, Hendricks lets loose on the infectious opening track "Percolator," even screaming over churning guitars and crashing cymbals. Most of the album follows that example, with driving hook after hook, though tempos and distortion do vary. Along with candid lyrics mostly concerned with objects of affection, being on the outside, feeling vulnerable, and looking for connections ("I don't want to scare you/I don't want to share you"), songs called "DQ" and "Gatorade" keep things decidedly unpretentious. In fact, Guppy may be just the ticket for those looking for a reprieve from the ubiquitous gloss of electro-pop, and they can have it without sacrificing catchiness or sunny vibrations. ~ Marcy Donelson
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