After a week of teasing the album artwork on social media, Hop Along have finally announced their new album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog and released the first track off the album, “How Simple,” along with a tour across North America in the summer. It’s a departure from their typical rock sound and incorporates elements of emo and pop to create a complex jam.
The song jumps right in, beginning with Frances Quinlan’s hushed vocals and stripped guitar, then throwing the listener back with the entrance of the rhythm section, and a guitar sound I cannot get over. It soon builds to overlapping vocals, mixed with strange harmonies and the crawling sound of Joe Reinhart’s guitar over a strong bass line. The lyrics feel distinctly Hop Along, strange and twisted but with a folksy charm: “Think I should stop checking myself out in the windows of cars, when I could see my future in her pictures of relatives.”
The song is constantly turning on a dime, from screeching guitars, to Vagabon-like moments of serenity, to group vocals chanting along to the chorus. It’s also distinctly bubblier than their previous albums, showing a trend of moving away from the more dissonant and formless songs of Get Disowned, while feeling almost like an adaptation of something off Freshman Year. This song also lacks the unique style of guitar solo Hop Along is known for, opting instead for a simpler set of hollow intervals. It closes on Quinlan’s voice and guitar over violin, at which point it feels like one has experienced an entire album through just a few minutes, every section having such a distinct flavor.
“How Simple” is anything but. Nuanced and intricate, it’s a promising look into the upcoming album, which will be released on April 6th via Saddle Creek. As to anybody doubting the future of Hop Along, I’d say, “Don’t worry, we will both find out, just not together.”