Bark Your Head Off, Dog: An Album Review

2018 has been a whirlwind of a year so far… and it is only the beginning of summer. Despite everything currently happening in your life, Hop Along released their new Album Bark Your Head Off, Dog in April and it may be THE thing to get you through the rest of this year. Do you find yourself in a spiral of change, leaving you unequipped to move forward? Good. Embrace it, keep calm, and Hop Along.

Hop Along consists of the multi-talented, lead singer and guitarist Frances Quinlan, guitarist Joe Reinhart, bassist Tyler Long, and drummer Mark Quinlan.  Frances Quinlan formed the band as a solo project during her senior year of high school under the name of Hop Along, Queen Ansleis. Her brother Mark joined the project later on after years of being a drummer in a predominately metal music scene. The band, musically and personally, have gone through some changes. Even the enigmatic voice of Frances Quinlan has evolved into something more otherworldly, more keyed in. So why not, on the precipice of change make a new album?

“It's not that I thought like all of a sudden you change, We were covered in each other's snot in my childhood bed, Well it seemed like we were being sweet” – How Simple, Hop Along

Change is not the only theme on this album discussed. Dog is about the human experience and how we cope, displaying the range of emotions bottled inside. The most notable being anger. Although Frances Quinlan is a strong guitarist, as a lyricist, she is supreme. Quinlan laments about the abuse of power (specifically power held by men) and how it left her void of tools necessary for self-expression. This theme goes on so far as to repeat in two songs on the album through the line, “Strange to be shaped by such strange men”.

The band’s previous album Painted Shut was released three years ago. The self-produced and self-recorded album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, has been a longtime coming, still incorporating the same poetic language of lyrics and instruments as Painted Shut. Multiple listening sessions of the album show a variety of instruments, including strings, mandolin, piano, fiddles, and harp. The best songs on the album to find this array of sound are “How You Got Your Limp”, “What the Writer Meant”, and “Not Abel”.

My personal favorites on this album are “What the Writer Meant”, “How Simple”, and “One That Suits Me”. Truly, Dog came at the right time for me. So if you are being ground down by life in general then remember as the seasons change so do we and that it is time to blare “How Simple” as loud as your neighbor will let you.

 Dara Calmes, age 23, is a sophomore at Southeastern Louisiana University. An Art History major with a minor in Theatre, Calmes is passionate about music and her job as Student Music Director for 90.9 FM KSLU.