Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Alternative Rock is not having the best five years. The genre has felt somewhat out of new ideas and keeps trying to recreate albums that are not recreatable. It takes something either really new or really really good in order to breakthrough all of this and it's a puzzle few have been able to crack. The one wrinkle in the timeline though is when someone can transcend genre through sheer personality. That is exactly what Frances Quinlan is able to do vocally. She makes generic or songs that have been done before feel entirely new in her hands. She moves her voice in ways that I have never heard before. At one point you think you have her dialed in and know what sound she is going to make, then it ends up being totally different. This album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, masquerades as a folksy indie album, but then becomes so much more. Each note of music reinforces her star power and really gives this music some life. On "The Fox in Motion" when she hits the high notes her voice begins to slightly crack, while at other times it's just blisteringly good. Hop Along write these songs that are necessary biographical but take seeds of an idea from Quinlan and then take her out of the equation. We get these third person views, or situations where we are only observers to these everyday lives of her characters. It's a wonderful way of creating deep ideas and emotions without having to own every bit of the story yourself.
This album compared to Her last feels more open and a bit more wild. Her last record felt like it was tight and had something to hide just beyond the surface but this album puts everything out there. "Look of Love" which is just Quinlan and an acoustic at the beginning feels like it is so much more with her voice rising above everything. "Prior Things" is the type of song that makes you want to stamp you feet on the floor, but also scream the lyrics in someone's face. There are so many stand up and take notice moments on this album, and so many that really just set the record on fucking fire. The albums title ties in with it's lyrics as the barking dog, that annoying pain you just can't shake, but in embracing it she makes us want to hear it right along with her. There is a ton of emotional depth to unpack on this album, but the main thrust of everything is Quinlan's heart and soul. A truly stelar album and one that should not have flown under the radar. Hop Along has the goods and it's about time people knew it.
8.7 out of 10