Hop Along has convincingly wrapped its arms around the whole of alternative pop, skipping between the epic, intimate and melodic, but that breadth has taken years to cultivate. Quinlan formed the band in 2004, and cut its first album, Freshman Year, alone in 2005. For the next few years, she transformed her solo act into a full band that now includes her brother, Mark, and after the release of Hop Along's second album, Get Disowned (Hot Green Records, 2012), the band signed with Saddle Creek in 2014, which re-released Get Disowned in 2016.
In a way, the move to Saddle Creek brought Quinlan full-circle: Saddle Creek is also the label for the band Bright Eyes, which Quinlan listened to avidly in high school. The pull of Bright Eyes on Hop Along has been strong, particularly Bark, which reflects pop sensibilities and songwriting found in Bright Eyes' later work, especially The People's Key (Saddle Creek, 2011).
If Quinlan has a superpower, it's her voice, which elevates Hop Along to the top of the alt pop heap and makes the title of the new album an almost ironic touch. Writing for Pitchfork, Jayson Greene observed that "The frontwoman ... doesn't have one voice—she might have 10." She has a boxer in every corner of the ring—the screech, the growl, the belt and the croon—and they all touch gloves on the new album.
Catch Hop Along, with opening act and frequent Treeforters Summer Cannibals, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 5, at Neurolux. Tickets are $15-$18.