Frances Quinlan – Likewise – Review

Photo Credit: Julia Khorosilov

“Likewise,” the first solo album from Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan, radiates an energy of comfortable nostalgia throughout the nine tracks, wherein Quinlan’s distinctively emphatic voice and almost hyper-descriptive lyrics take center stage. Unlike Hop Along’s repertoire, which leans more heavily into punk rock, Quinlan touches on pop sensibilities throughout her debut album. “Rare Thing,” the lead single from “Likewise,” put me off upon first listen. The synths and drum beats were way too different than what I had come to expect from Quinlan and Co. with Hop Along. But now, in the context of the entire album, the song itself makes more sense. Quinlan’s voice fits well with the somewhat more sophisticated instrumentation. Expanding on that, the album’s production is very interesting. “Detroit Lake,” the fourth track, makes use of loops, orchestral arrangements, and even harp but nothing sounds or feels out of place. The main focus for the album, however, is Quinlan’s vocals and the words she sings. “Likewise” almost sounds like a long-lost folk singer’s album from the mid to late 90s, one that has a substantially large underground/cult following, or one that recently saw the light of day after being lost for decades in a box in some defunct record label’s attic. Perhaps that’s why the songs that make up “Likewise” feel somewhat strangely nostalgic, even though they’re all new (even Quinlan’s unique cover of Built to Spill’s “Carry that Zero,” which serves as the album’s closing track, sounds unlike any previous cover of that seminal song.) Ever since Hop Along’s debut in 2012, Quinlan stood out as one of the most original and inventive songwriters and her edge hasn’t grown duller in the intervening eight years. If “Likewise” is any indication, she’s simply gotten sharper.

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