written by Maria Arroyo
Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan is a Philadelphia-based indie singer/songwriter who has just dropped her solo album, Likewise. Interestingly enough, her album art was created by her! She also has some help along the way with band member, Joe Reinhart. Quinlan said, “working with Joe on this made me able to better see that the guitar is just one vehicle… there are so many others to explore…” She explores these different sounds and styles all throughout her new album.
Opening her solo album is the track, “Piltman Man,” which taps into a more alternative indie-like sound. She’s very lyrically inclined and is able to fit an enormous amount of words into this song without it feeling overworked. The simple chord progression paired with some interesting rhythmic patterns allows her lyrics to stand out.
“Your Reply” has a more upbeat approach while still retaining a strong story conceptually. This feels like a song that other people can relate to, while still providing the idea that there is more to listen for beyond the surface. Quinlan changes direction with her next song, “Rare Thing,” which brings EDM and techno-inspired instrumentation to focus. Right away, there is something very different about this song from the others. There is this fight between the tempo and rhythm that throws us off the tracks a little. Sometimes the lyrics didn’t quite match up to the tempo, so it felt disconnected and hard to follow, but she pulled it right back before going too far.
“Detroit Lake” brings a very dreamy, shoegaze-like energy to the album. This is another song on the album where I feel that there is a message that is buried beneath the surface. The lyrics are very abstract but match very well with the ethereal mood that is set. However, this is not a song to passively listen to because it is not as straightforward. The story isn’t obvious and the lyrics at times are very out in the left-field, but it did make for an interesting listen.
Her next songs, “A Secret,” and “Went To LA” showcased more angsty and punk rock energy which added another new dimension to her album. There is an honest sound that she is able to capture in the recording process which makes her sound more authentic, and her vocal range in the latter song is revealed and took the win for best song. I also think the song structure and dynamics are the most intense in these two songs.
The album starts to bring back a strong indie sound and a similar style to her first few songs with her next song “Lean” while introducing a retro and futuristic sound with her other song “Now That I’m Back.”
Closing out the album is her song, “Carry The Zero.” I really liked this song because it felt like a very strong and accurate representation of her sound and style as an artist. While keeping her core sound intact, there is also a sense of new discovery with different sound effects and instrumentation that she tries out. This song truly felt like a culmination of all of her interesting quirks and moments that she shared throughout the other songs.
I loved her unique and different sound that she captures in this album. It felt like she tried to push the boundaries musically within herself and it paid off. Likewise is going to be a great stepping stone for her future releases and I think she will continue to surprise us!