There is no voice in popular music right now that quite comes close to the elastic immediacy of that of Hop Along's Frances Quinlan. It's the Philadelphia punk band's most compelling, dynamic instrument, from hushed confessions to heart-wrenching screams, and it's in full force on their breakthrough sophomore effort, Painted Shut.
The three long years since Get Disowned gifted Hop Along the chance to take their sonic sheet lightning and bottle it, giving Painted Shut a razor-sharp focus and economy that doesn't give an inch. Songs like "Waitress" and "Powerful Man" are knockout rock'n'roll bruisers, the latter dealing with her reflection on an incident involving an abusive father and his son, which she was helpless to stop. "I Saw My Twin" and the sparse "Well-dressed" calm things slightly, but both result in their own explosive moments indicating a refusal to hold anything back.
The climax on the unstoppable closer "Sister Cities" comes as Quinlan declares, ferociously but without real acceptance, "I know you had to shoot that dog I loved so much, I know you had to do it." It's the same vitriolic emotion that runs rampant through the whole album: a fury so powerful that it's possible to believe it could will the past to change. (Saddle Creek)