Monday, April 27, 2015

Currently Listening: Hop Along


There are five albums that exist in my life that, since listening to them the first time, I can always come back to, especially on days when it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul. Two of them are by the same band.


Hop Along is the most important music in my life. I can't articulate properly all that band has come to mean to me. I first discovered them in high school, when they released their first proper album, Get Disowned. (Before that, Frances Quinlan put out three or four releases as a solo artist, Hop Along, Queen Ansleis, and those releases are great too, but for different reasons.) Their sound is the kind of eclectic indie rock that experiments and produces the kind of feeling you get when you say to yourself, "This is weird. I think I like it."

But their sound is secondary to Quinlan's ability to compose a song that rips me right in half. Above is one of my favorite tracks, Trouble Found Me, which gets me just from the first line:
Trouble found me sleeping
so I followed it downstairs 
The entire song drifts with a sort of dream-(nightmare-)like quality that is intense, dark, and something I could very easily identify with when I discovered this band. I don't think it's any secret that I have depression; I don't really hide it anymore, and wear it on my sleeve whenever I write and when you catch me at certain times of the day. I use most arts as a way of coping, whether through the escapism of television, the study of literature, or the well of empathy that is music. I've always though that the grandest and most important thing about art is its propensity to tell us we are not alone. In the dark when you cannot properly see your hand in front of your face, but can feel the overbearing presence of anxiety and fear, you can still hear music. So, in the wee hours of morn, from panic attack to the drifting numbness that comes after, stripping you of your ability to sleep, I listened to Get Disowned, on repeat, because it felt like someone was there for me.


I've written Frances letters and attended enough shows to know the quirks of their live performances, but their music still reverberates like it did the first time around. But beyond that, Quinlan is just an amazing writer, with lyrics that drip feeling off of them. In No Good Al Joad, the final verse (and that refrain, Everybody is a little hard to love sometimes) has been stuck in my head since I first heard it:
The first person I realized was dying thanked everyone
for the cakes soft and low, now I can tell the ground
barely feels my footsteps as I go.
So, yes, okay Kyle, you've been listening to the same album on repeat for the last three years because you get sad sometimes, why talk about it now? Glad you asked, vindictive version of myself; their new album comes out in a few weeks and I am doing backflips.


Because I pre-ordered, I have a digital copy of the album and it's already taken up that place in my chest reserved for bedfellows. Their sound has evolved to be more band-like, without as much of a spotlight on Frances and bringing the rest of the sound out. But her lyrics haven't lost out at all, even updating to include some contemporary mundaneness of everyday life in a light that makes it heartbreaking. The above, Waitress, is the first single off the album and tells the story of feeling incredibly small. From one song, Happy to See Me:
Father gets up at four a.m.
to post a motivational video on YouTube again,
"People of the world,
nobody loves you
half as much as I
am trying to."
Every day brings its own challenges, and I love Hop Along, both Get Disowned and Painted Shut because I feel understood, dragging myself from one place to the next being carried by metaphysical sound waves and a catchy beat.

1 comment:

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