REVIEW: Hop Along Bark Your Head Off, Dog



Hop Along, a locally-sourced Philadelphia band fronted by the gilded growl of Frances Quinlan, is best defined as undefinable, not quite punk and not quite folk. Their first two albums, Get Disowned and Painted Shut, are marked by lyrics that read more like short stories, grounded in the majesty of the mundane and smothered in a gorgeous squall buzzing guitar riffs. Quinlan’s songwriting evades the cliches and corniness that 21st century punk rock so often falls prey to, while maintaining its rasp and verve. The new Bark Your Head Off, Dog maintains Hop Along’s warbly effervescence, but this time the guitars step lightly on the distortion pedal and the songs land in a clean, well lighted place, colored with strings and powered by new rhythms. The lyrics have similarly evolved. Each song takes on a story-like structure, lending themselves to one overarching narrative: overcoming the abuse of male power. One particularly striking lyric, “Strange to be shaped by such strange men,” appears on a couple of songs, and serves as a throughline theme for the album. On “Not Abel,” the line is framed in the story of Cain and Abel, a tale rooted in love’s propensity for destruction. In “What the Writer Meant” the context is more nebulous, and shot through with gore and detachment. The songs on Bark Your Head Off, Dog draw their spell-casting power from the will to overcome, to demand change, to refuse to be shaped by the misdeeds of strange men, and not go gentle into that bad night. — KEELY MCAVENY