For what it’s worth, Hop Along’s Painted Shut is one of the most compelling records of the 2010s. Sure, it’s pinned to a label with history (Saddle Creek) and bookended by Philadelphia’s smothering “punk” scene, but it’s an album that salutes both by hitting with force. For 10 songs, the foursome snap off P.S. Eliot-meets-Hold Steady alt-rock, filling any awkward pauses with cohesive transitions, punch-drunk fills, frantic chords, and storytelling that leaves paper cuts. In its own little space, Frances Quinlan’s backseat tales go from reflective to raw in a millisecond – whether they’re about unpredictable enemies (“Waitress”), abusive parents (“Powerful Man”), or heading home (“Horseshoe Crabs”) – and when she nails her higher register, it’s awfully easy for Painted Shut to feel like open-heart surgery.
Listen: “Happy To See Me”, “Well-dressed”, “Texas Funeral” || Watch: “Powerful Man”