Hop Along offer a fourth LP full of “fine tuned to perfection tracks”

words fae ryan martin (@ryanmartin182)rating 8

Their 4th effort, Hop Along’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog is their most potent, catchiest, and gorgeous effort to date. Each of the 9 tracks on the LP feel like they have been fine tuned to perfection. At the center of the album is frontwoman Frances Quinlan, she invited the listener to exist in the picture she paints with her lyrics with her bandmates’ help.

“Afternoon vanilla sun crawls away across the lawn

Through the phone I pull you and drag your voice around

Afternoon vanilla sun crawls away without a sound

Through the phone I pull you and drag your voice around”

Quinlan’s lyrics is the driving force that pushes this album from good to great. The instrumentation is surely impressive but are complimented perfectly by the themes of aging, relationships, and reflection. From the opener How Simple, the repeated refrain

“Don’t worry, we’ll find out just not together”

sets the tone for the record, while its themes may not be as cheery as the music itself, it invites you to look at these themes with a cheery outlook. Instead of looking back with regret, maybe look back with reflection and optimism.

The Philly indie rock outfit has been around since as early as 2005 when Quinlan was still in high-school. Over a decade later, their sound has gone from a bedroom pop sound to recognition in the emo/indie community to Bark. Their newest effort demonstrates what the band has been working up to all these years. Lush, grand and confessional songs that are rooted in indie and folk.

Something that’s really enjoyable about this album is the first listen is pleasant the whole way through. Some albums take some time to really digest all the lyrics and structures. On the first listen, Bark sneaks in repeated earworms that make the tracks really pop on your first run through them. The more that you revisit the album, these earworms act as a place marker for your first listen, as you pick up new favorite parts and lyrics or riffs you might have missed on your first listen. It’s certainly not an album that you need to spend time dissecting to fully enjoy, but rather one that encourages you to keep digging.

Each of the nine tracks feel like they have their own legs to stand on. They are developed enough that they don’t sound the same as the track before it but still adds to the cohesiveness of the album. There are some synthesizers that are peppered into harmonies throughout the 40-minute-LP. The duration doesn’t overstay it’s welcome either. Each song deserves its own attention to detail in some way. Bark is a truly remarkable album that goes down smoother with every listen.

As a quick reminder, it’s extremely important to support female-fronted artists in order to overcome the dominating presence of white males in the music scene, especially in the indie/emo community. Hop Along has crafted a gorgeous LP that deserves your attention. This applies to LGBTQ-fronted, trans-fronted, and artists of color as well. There’s a lot of talented musicians all around us, it’s important not to let their talents be unheard because of their gender/race/sexual identity.