Hop Along: Bark Your Head Off, Dog (Saddle Creek) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Hop Along

Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Saddle Creek

Apr 03, 2018 Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett Bookmark and Share

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Philadelphia's Hop Along has always been a notoriously difficult band to pin down. Even from Frances Quinlan's first solo record under the extended name Hop Along, Queen Ansleis, she was vaguely recognized as the short-lived freak-folk movement. However, the full band we know now with the shortened name, has, over the course of two full-length records, existed somewhere between the slippery tags of emo and folk.

Hop Along's reputation grew beyond the faithful punk community with their 2015 sleeper hit record Painted Shut where the band perfectly balanced the liminal zones between a more digestible indie rock with a harder-edged punk sound that never consumed but always remained present. So Quinlan and co's third record proper, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, will come as somewhat of a shock to some when hearing those "rougher edges" be rounded off.

Everything about the Philadelphia quartet's sound on their latest record sounds more accomplished, but also more polished, which takes a little from what made Hop Along such an exciting prospect on previous songs such as "The Knock."

That jaggedness, however, has been replaced by more focused and considered songwriting, something Quinlan has always shown a clear knack for. Opener and single "How Simple" progresses through various moods and feelings to achieve this, while "The Fox in Motion" once again displays her excellent vocal tenacity. Meanwhile finale "Prior Things" shows the huge progression the band has employed in their self-production. Still, one wonders if something exciting went missing in this cleaner direction. (www.hopalongtheband.com

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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