Thursday, April 30, 2015

Listen: Hop Along - "Powerful Man"

Well this is somewhat embarassing. After falling in love with Philly rockers Hop Along through their fervent and powerful Shaking Through single "Sister Cities", I was eagerly anticipating their new record and yet somehow I completely missed that the quartet were all prepped to loose that record into the world. Painted Shut, the follow up to their debut record Get Disowned, is out in a mere couple days and I almost missed it completely. In fact it was an offhanded remark from a friend that made me realized I had essentially let Hop Along's current PR cycle pass me by.

 Better late than never they say though as in addition to "Sister Cities", Hop Along have offered up three other songs from their upcoming sophomore records in "Waitress", "Powerful Man", and "Texas Funeral". Hop Along are still built around singer/songwriter Frances Quinlan's distinctive scratchy vocals but there's a dexterity in its use that wasn't all that present on Get Disowned. Well not to the level it is in a song like "Powerful Man". Quinlan's lyrics have always been rooted in narrative with a slight surreal streak but on "Powerful Man", there's a softenness and restraint in Quinlan's delivery that rewards the eager listener. It's benches Hop Along's characteristic fervor for understated but unmistakably ear-catching pop rock moments that bely the song's darker lyric florishes. True to form - Quinlan's lyrics are just the right amount of sparse, emphasizing less what is being said but rather what isn't and just how Quinlan's singing it. Her "I just thought he looked like a powerful man" becomes less a statement of admiration and more of one of sardonic observation the more she repeats it.

Hop Along's sophomore album Painted Shut is out May 5th on Saddle Creek Records.

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