Lead singer and songwriter Frances Quinlan has a lot on her mind. “Don’t worry. We will both find out. Just not together.” Those might be the best break-up lyrics I’ve ever heard. Between hoots and barks and cracking screams, she pours wisdom out in couplets—how can someone this young be this wise? And how can one woman have so much range? Her vocal quality makes me think of Mick Jagger in the 1970s. Not because she’s full of swagger, but because she can move from twee high notes to angry passion to whistle to pure joy in the space of seconds, the same way Jagger used to change his voice for every character in his songs.
The album is full of characters and stories. A personal favorite is, “How You Got Your Limp,” which tells the story of, yes, why a dude limps:
I can hear you
The whole bar can
I know what you’d like me to say
But you got to do exactly what you wanted
It’s how you got your limp
What does it mean? It leaves more questions open than answered—and that’s the brilliance of a genius song. It forces you to work alongside it, an active listener. Filling in gaps. Keeping the story going after the music fades.
But perhaps no song affected me more than, “What The Writer Meant,” with the chorus: “God is the one (God is the one, God is the one) who changed
(God is the one, God is the one, God is the one who changed).” I’m sure this will mean different things to many people: A statement on athiesm. Blasphemy. Or a statement about the need for a changing faith when life pushes us in a painful direction. A moment of meaning in a meaningless world. All I know is, it speaks to me.
I listen to a lot of music. A LOT. So it takes quite a bit for a record to make me stop and think. And there were many times that Hop Along’s third album did it.
This album gets my highest recommendation.