Hop Along
Bark Your Head Off, Dog


4.5
superb

Review

by Slex USER (27 Reviews)
April 2nd, 2018 | 215 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If we only circle around, there's no hurry in reaching it

There's an inspiring duality present all over Bark Your Head Off, Dog. The release finds singer Frances Quinlan further sanding the edges of her voice, but the release is by no means a sterilization of their sound. In softening her tone, it allows the band to reveal themselves as a colorful and tightly accomplished unit, not too different than what happened with The Antlers learning how to breathe as Peter Silberman loosened his reins on the vision for the group. The music found here is extravagant and orchestral but also tight and stately, remaining urgent while employing greater patience and precision. Quinlan does not let loose once as she did on Waitress or Tibetan Pop Stars, but there's still an intensity to her delivery, illustrated further by the numerous times her voice is in direct conflict with itself, backed by persistent counter-melodies and vocal ad-libs that cohere into a cluster of emotions. Bark Your Head Off, Dog finds Hop Along unmistakably maturing, toning down the energy but becoming no less dynamic in doing so. It's a wonderfully accomplished balancing act.

Imagine, if you can, an alternate universe where The Dismemberment Plan came back, didn't suck, and incorporated copious orchestral elements into their signature sound, and I think you'll find something akin to what Hop Along has presented to us here. Hop Along here seem to share an artistic kinship with the band, both musically and thematically; Bark Your Head Off, Dog revels in shimmering grooves and insistent rhythms, coalescing into miniature slow dances of nagging anxiety and surreal profundity. It registers as both an adventurous step away from their jagged emotional pyrotechnics and a reflexive and natural step forward. Just about every second of this album is in constant motion, every nook and cranny filled with some textural embellishment. Quinlan talked about finding restraint with this album, and though it isn't immediately apparent, as busy and bouncy as it sounds, further listens reveal this to be true: where previous albums had a similar feeling of circulative motion, it formerly sounded predatory, the band circling and circling before finally pouncing. Here, the band continue to have a comparable feeling of circling an idea, whether musically or lyrically ('This has happened, this will happen, this is happening' is the most Hop Along lyric ever), but now it could be likened to a pirouette: it's simply more graceful and composed, and arguably more impressive for being so.

Continuing on from Painted Shut, there's an emphasis on detail-oriented songwriting that reaches its logical endpoint here, with the main progression coming emotionally. Whereas Quinlan's main modes of expression seemed to be frustration and angst in the past, here, she's more weathered. She remains just as inquisitive and quirky as before, but now seems more in quiet awe of both her problems and the people around her, more patient and accepting. It's a bright generosity of spirit that pairs intrinsically with the extroverted and harmonious sound being presented, and I now have trouble imagining Hop Along any other way; what was before a sweaty embrace has become an enveloping bear hug. With Quinlan toning down her vocal theatrics, the band as a unit come forward and truly find their voice. How simple love can be. Embrace it.



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Haygoody (4.5)
How simple my heart can be...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Slex
April 2nd 2018


5546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm sure I'll get complaints that this review is too quick, but I honestly have no interest in starting a hype train or anything, this is just the first time since last May I've been inspired enough to write a review

Constructive criticism is welcomed as always

Digging: Wicca Phase Springs Eternal - Suffer On

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 2nd 2018


29545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

What I've heard of this has me extremely excited despite not having listened to Hop Along. I'll have to find the stream (oh, just did, hi NPR).



Really tight review by the way. Your descriptions are immaculate and you write in such a way, with such flow, that specific tracks/ordering doesn't matter. I'm actually envious because it takes a certain level of connection/understanding to be able to write about an album so eloquently and with such precision. An easy pos -- if I may though, a couple pieces of constructive criticism that would make this great review perfect: italicizing the album title would make it pop more and read less like more words in the paragraph. If you're reading it in your head it helps with diction, at least for me. Second, with how professional of a stance your writing tone takes in the first paragraph, lines like Imagine, if you can, an alternate universe where The Dismemberment Plan came back, didn't suck... really takes the wind out of the sails. In all honesty, I think your review would be just about flawless if you cut that whole comparison out entirely and began your second paragraph with your descriptors (Bark Your Head Off, Dog revels...)...also, you use "orchestral" twice in close succession but that's me being nitpicky.



Anyhow, great work. I'm gonna spin this right now.



PS: That Antlers analogy with Silberman gradually relinquishing control is so apt. If this is Hop Along's Burst Apart, then I'll love it.

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2018


41203 Comments


nice review Freddie, the only things I would note is that the opening line is a bit nondescript (in that it could apply to almost any album) and I would probably lose this part: "a certainly disconcerting thought but not quite as far-fetched as it may initially seem". Feels a bit like qualifying your opinion, you don't really need to

great stuff, I should probably listen to this band at some point

Digging: Copeland - Blushing

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2018


41203 Comments


Sowing's too quick to the draw damn

rabidfish
April 2nd 2018


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not Abel might be my SOTY ffffuck i love it

One that suits me and look of love are also dope, but every track is solid, even the so so ones.



Lovely album.

Digging: Adrenalin O.D. - The Wacky Hi-Jinks Of Adrenalin O.D.

rabidfish
April 2nd 2018


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

' Imagine, if you can, an alternate universe where The Dismemberment Plan came back, didn't suck, and incorporated copious orchestral elements into their signature sound '



Lol savage. TDP does fucking suck, tho.

Slex
April 2nd 2018


5546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's been so long since I've posted a review that I forgot how to italicize lmao. I love my Dismemberment Plan comparison but I can see what y'all are saying so I'll at the least tidy that up



That being said, having writers block for basically a year and coming back to the praise that y'all have given me means A LOT, thank y'all for the kind words

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 2nd 2018


29545 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

On the final track right now and this whole thing has a real raspy, earthy beauty to it. I think it's easily in the 4-4.5 range. Vocalist has a striking resemblance to Rain Phoenix (of Papercranes), which is a very good thing (check here -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWKsNmjhtx4).

Slex
April 2nd 2018


5546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I loooove Papercranes and I can't believe I didn't hear the resemblance before, you're absolutely right

SandwichBubble
April 2nd 2018


9246 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I wish I had the same reaction all of you did

Digging: Little Claw - Moss Has Fangs

rabidfish
April 2nd 2018


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

tbh i can't possibly see how you can like their other records and not this one.



Otherwise, yea this isn't for everybody.

Slex
April 2nd 2018


5546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is pretty different than their previous stuff so I think there's a fair chance it'll grown on ya? Here's to hoping!

SandwichBubble
April 2nd 2018


9246 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's very pastable (🍝) to like their other work and not this. Dismemberment plan comparison is apt cause this sounds just like weak Change-era Plan. Here's to hoping it will grow, though

Gyromania
April 2nd 2018


26489 Comments


Ridiculously overrated band

rabidfish
April 2nd 2018


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

underrated, if anything

ABdayCandleInACircle
April 2nd 2018


24 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review gets to the heart of what I love about this album. Prior Things might be the most impressive song they’ve released so far and there’s still a slight restraint to it that I love. As you know The National is my favorite band, and they are extremely subtle and detail oriented. All the embellishments on this add so much without it sounding overproduced or too crowded.

ABdayCandleInACircle
April 2nd 2018


24 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review gets to the heart of what I love about this album. Prior Things might be the most impressive song they’ve released so far and there’s still a slight restraint to it that I love. As you know The National is my favorite band, and they are extremely subtle and detail oriented. All the embellishments on this add so much without it sounding overproduced or too crowded.

ABdayCandleInACircle
April 2nd 2018


24 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Review gets to the heart of what I love about this album. Prior Things might be the most impressive song they’ve released so far and there’s still a slight restraint to it that I love. As you know The National is my favorite band, and they are extremely subtle and detail oriented. All the embellishments on this add so much without it sounding overproduced or too crowded.

Slex
April 2nd 2018


5546 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Holy triple post haha. I totally agree tho, I came very close to referencing The National but decided one band comparison was probably enough

MarsKid
April 2nd 2018


8493 Comments


I see an 'emo' tag

Will this make me feel

(site has been slow so he probably smashed the submit button a few too many times)

Digging: Avantasia - Moonglow



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