There can be anger in pop music," says Hop Along singer and guitarist Frances Quinlan. "In fact, anger is perfect for the vehicle of pop music. Who isn't angry today?"
The anger in "Powerful Man," off the Philadelphia band's new album, Painted Shut, isn't immediately apparent. The beat is bouncy, the chords major, the melody sweet and meandering. But even if you overlook lines like, "Down came the fist upon your head," there's no missing the moment when Quinlan's voice seems to jump several octaves and light itself on fire. Voices of this calibre don't come along too often; you might finish the song with your eyes stinging a little bit, thinking, "Fuck. Fuck."
"Powerful Man" proves that Hop Along have the anger/pop transmutation thing down. It's somehow hugely satisfying (I found it almost impossible not to picture some wiry post-hardcore dudes backing Janis Joplin), formally daring and morally complex all at once. The band has been around in different forms for almost about eight years; if there's any justice, they'll blow up War On Drugs-style in 2015.
Watch the video, above, and hear more of Painted Shut, out today on Saddle Creek, here.