Hop Along is a remarkable find. Described as many things, varying from grunge folk to punk rock, they are unlikely to be a band you’ve heard of before. However, this Philadelphian group is driven by an entrancing energy, and their latest album, Painted Shut, is no exception. Lead singer Frances Quinlan has a powerful, rock voice, and this dominates the majority of their tracks. Their style is vaguely recognisable as punk, but taken in a different, whimsical direction.
Each song is an example of refreshingly well-done storytelling, which deflects the attention away from the singer and turns the perspective onto the subject of her tale. For the severity of the themes, which include abuse, poverty and greed, the songs are not desolate, but strangely jubilant. Quinlan’s captivating voice, which can switch between soft and raw in seconds, can lead you through a story of despair, like in ‘Well-dressed’, but leave you with a feeling of hope.
The tracks are full of intriguing but fleeting characters, spread across an unequal land- scape, where “there is nothing more danger- ous than a defeated army heading home”. It is no by means easy listening, demanding your full attention with its intricate stories and cogent emotions. However, if you’re looking for a female vocalist with the intrigue of Courtney Barnett, then Hop Along is an exhilarating choice.