Hop Along’s Energetic Painted Shut Makes Philly Proud

It’s been a busy, exciting year so far for music in Philadelphia. The Districts stole our hearts during their Valentine’s Day album release show at Union Transfer, The Menzingers came home to open for Taking Back Sunday, Waxahatchee released their third album, and countless other locals made great strides. Hop Along is no different. Ever since she was a senior in high school in 2005, Frances Quinlan, Hop Along’s vocalist, has been performing around Philadelphia, later expanding her solo project into a four-piece band. After signing to Saddle Creek, Conor Oberst‘s label, in October, the grunge folk group announced their album Painted Shut, which dropped with a bang earlier this month. Though Hop Along have put out two full-length releases before Pained Shut, this is their first album on a major indie label, earning them press from outlets like Rolling Stone and Stereogum.

Hop Along’s spotlight isn’t for nothing, though. Painted Shut is consistently energetic from start to finish, with Frances Quinlan’s smooth, yet edgy and powerful vocals perfectly complementing hyperactive, poppy guitars. Though they’ve only recently been signed, Hop Along shares a collection of musically complex songs characteristic of a veteran group – “Horsehoe Crabs,” for example, features a breath-taking integration of a repeated piano riff and somber, jazzy vocals, followed by a swoon-worthy technical guitar breakdown.

From the first moments of the album, Hop Along displays a knack for writing wonderfully strange lyrics. The opening song, “The Knock,” begins, “8:45 AM/The dream just escaped me again./Over breakfast, I could hear you in the garage building insects.” Later in “Happy to See Me,” an acoustic song recorded to sound like a bedroom demo, Quinlan sings, “Father gets up at 4 AM/To post a motivational video on YouTube again/’People of the world, nobody loves you/half as much as I am trying to.’”

The first single from the album, “Waitress,” is one of the most vocally-impressive songs, culminating in near-shrieking. Many songs on the album center around a repetitive hook construction, but these hooks are so bizarrely melodic and captivating that they beg to be repeated. In “Texas Funeral,” Quinlan shouts, “None of this is going to happen to me” again and again as the song builds energy and breaks into a distorted, Strokes-like guitar solo – gritty, unpredictable, and musical.

On May 9, Hop Along returned to Union Transfer for their record release celebration show, which WXPN’s The Key described as “one big neighborhood party.” We can only hope that Hop Along will continue to grace our city’s stages as the band gains more and more recognition around the world.

Check out Hop Along’s single “Waitress” below!

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