Old LP and the Sweet Brutality of that dog.

Eva Hendricks (Charly Bliss) talks the band’s first album in 22 years.

Part of the reality of being a female-identifying musician is that you will often find yourself being compared to bands that you share nothing in common with, purely by virtue of the fact that both bands happen to be fronted by women. This crystalized for me years ago when our band started being compared to Blondie after I… dyed my hair blonde. Even if the comparison is flattering, you can tell when it’s just lazy journalism. 

But, I’ll never forget when my boss at the coffee shop where I used to work heard the rough mixes for our first album and immediately told me that I had to listen to that dog. I fell in love with the harmonies, pop sensibility and commitment to catchy melodies and lyrics that were simultaneously singular and relatable. I nearly died of pure elation when I discovered that Anna Waronker contributed songs to the Josie and The Pussycats soundtrack (my bible) and it immediately made sense; I’d been influenced by their music without even realizing it. I’ve since devoured all of their records, and I was so psyched when they announced that they were releasing another record together this year.

Old LP gives me a lot of hope. This record sounds to me like three bandmates who have loved each other and lived through years of excitement, growth, and change and decided to come back together after years apart to make exactly the record they always wanted to make. I love that this record maintains the foundation of what makes a that dog. record. The contrast between sweet and brutal is as effective as ever, and string arrangements somehow work seamlessly alongside massive, blown-out guitars. On “Just The Way,” the violin is maddening in the choruses, heavier than the power chords and angry in its delicate, razor-sharp delivery. The cello in the verse dips in and out in unpredictable waves, making you feel off-kilter and out of control, like you’re being swept up into a rage-blackout.

My favorite song on the record is “Bird on a Wire,” which Anna described to Consequence of Sound as being “about the struggles of feeling bogged down, undervalued, underestimated, and overlooked.” It’s difficult to articulate how bizarre it is to make a career out of being a musician. You’re living your dream, which means there are undoubtedly moments of pure, electric, and ecstatic joy, but there’s also what comes after and in between those moments. When you turn something so personal into a career, there’s exhaustion, exposure, vulnerability, and disappointment, and it’s PUBLIC. It’s hard to feel any separation between the product you’re selling and yourself. If a song or an album doesn’t connect in the way you might have hoped, it’s nearly impossible to not feel that as a direct rejection of who you are. 

Anna describes her internal reckoning with that duality really beautifully on this track. The song itself is simple and wide open, featuring just guitar, bass, drums, and vocal harmonies that move in and out of playful dissonance and resolve. The rolling snare in the verses feels charged and inspiring, especially alongside the delicate arpeggiated guitar part. “Why am I surprised when I’m so well-rehearsed?” Such a good lyric. “This is all I’ve ever known and it’s all I’ve ever done/I’m a bird on a wire and tired of facing the sun.” What’s impressive about this song is that it doesn’t come across as cynical or bleak. The honesty is healing, and listening along feels like a reminder that it’s OK to love something that you simultaneously have complicated feelings about.

I think one of the best things about this record is that it’s not trying to play into what’s most popular or “on-trend” in music right now. It sounds like the band is picking up where they left off, who are only interested in making a record that’s authentic to both who they were then and who they are now. It’s refreshing and clearly emblematic of the trust that Anna, Rachel, and Tony feel in one another. 

And AHH!, the title track makes me cry. I think it would make anyone who’s lost someone cry. All of the lyrics on this record make me think that Anna Waronker is a very strong person who knows how to stay strong for the people she loves most. She navigates pain with patience and maturity, and when she lets you in on the full depth of her feeling, it’s devastating. “Take your time/There is no rush/I’ll be fine/I know that I’ll adjust/I’m gonna miss you/I’m gonna miss you so much.” She’s so matter-of-fact that she completely breaks your heart. 

If you listen down to the entirety of their catalogue, I think anyone would be shocked to discover that there were 22 years between Retreat from the Sun and Old LP. Anna and Rachel’s voices still sound like they were meant to be sandwiched together. The three bandmates haven’t lost the magical super-connection inherent to bands made up of childhood friends. In fact, it seems as though they’ve only returned to this project with renewed respect and appreciation for one another. I absolutely love it, and feel really lucky to have gotten a new album from one of my favorites.

Eva Hendricks is the frontwoman of the New York City-based pop rock quartet Charly Bliss. Charly Bliss’s new album Young Enough is out May 10 via Barsuk Records.

(Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz)