Album Review: Hop Along – ‘Painted Shut’

Hop Along records aren’t your average listen. They’re one of the most unique and musically moving experiences you could ask for as a music fan. Indie-rock at its most powerful. Get Disowned proved to be 2012’s darling and I was shocked the band didn’t blow up big-time following that. I guess they got their cult following but still, that album was the stuff of legend. Well, it’s great to report that the promise and excitement from a couple years ago is repeated on Painted Shut, which will undoubtedly skyrocket the band above the stratosphere – right where they belong.

If you loved their old music, well, rest assured that the soft-loud dynamic of the band you fell in love with is still here in spades. Frances Quinlan’s vocals and overall melodies (as per 2012’s “Laments”) are gorgeously flawed and so full of conviction. The power-pop indie drive of songs like “Tibetan Pop Stars” and “Young and Happy” are also here – case in point, “The Knock” which points to a religious knocking on your Sunday morning door. There are so many themes touched upon, as expected, and the intertwining guitars of Joe Reinhart expose a side of the band as never before, breathing new life and accentuating the lyricism so well.

It’s a very guitar-centric and riff-intricate album, not just based on massive hooks, which makes things feel so much more real. Reinhart lets loose on quite a few tracks and it feels like it’s his Algernon Cadwallader self brought into the fray. See “Texas Funeral” for a solo that opens the album up to an entirely new dimension. They feel so much more meticulous this time around, even on acoustic gems like “Happy To See Me”. Frances being more methodical and calculating makes for great music, further seen on the upbeat “Powerful Man” which is about her witnessing an incident with a teen that scarred her at 18. Her voice cracks, shakes and flails around with such beauty that you feel the emotional spectrum she’s raving about. Even her artwork on the cover is breathtaking and reels you in, keeping you lured here for over 30 minutes.

This band deserves every ounce of success that comes their way. And it’s about time too. Hop Along shakes indie up to a whole new level and I’m betting that they continue to set the standard and be that top benchmark in the genre for many years to come.

4.5 / 5

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