Music

Review: Hop Along again hits the mark with ‘Back Your Head Off, Dog’ (Grade: B-plus)

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Hop Along’s “Bark Your Head Off, Dog” is indie rock at its best.

The Philadelphia group’s third album is an imaginative release, full of compelling and catchy twists and turns.

While it’s not quite as noisy and urgent as 2015’s “Painted Shut,” the new album is more expansive. It features a sound that’s a bit more precious and measured.

The band’s folk influences shine through a bit more, like on the pretty, strictly string instrument endeavour “How You Got Your Limp.” Frances Quinlan’s vocals gently glide over the warm arrangement.

It’s clear again that Quinlan’s unique delivery and voice are the magic that moves Hop Along. Though the instrumentation is consistently wonderful and different, it’s Quinlan’s voice that ties it all together.

On the album’s best song, “The Fox in Motion,” she shows such great control of her voice, moving with ease from loud, raspy lines to more delicate vocals within seconds. Another great example of that range is “Not Abel.”

“Look of Love” is a long ride, but it’s dynamic and perfectly showcases a confident, creative, young band.

The 9-song release ends with “Prior Things,” a gorgeous, wide-ranging finale. Like the rest of the album, it’s beautiful.

What the album lacks, though, are standout moments. While it’s consistent, some songs pass by the first time without anything in particular sticking out. This will likely be a slow-burn type of release for some. I think that’s the natural side effect of the album being more subtle and muted than the previous release.

That being said, on “Bark Your Head Off, Dog,” Hop Along again is riding on a different wavelength than so many of its peers.

And with another album without even one bad song, there’s reason to believe Hop Along hasn’t even scratched the surface.