Frances Quinlan

Likewise

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The solo debut of one of the more distinctive voices in indie rock, Likewise is the creation of Hop Along's Frances Quinlan. Following her band's fourth full-length (2018's Bark Your Head Off, Dog) and on the same label (Saddle Creek), it was recorded with bandmate Joe Reinhart, who has also produced, engineered, and mixed for the group. That's where some similarities end, because, while Likewise still features the singer's peculiar, leaping vocal melodies, one of the album's biggest surprises is its sweeter, softer demeanor. That quality is partly manifested in lyrics and vocal performances that channel strong currents of compassion with lines like "Somebody wrote 'tender' in the novel's margins as if to remind about a precious force" and the declarative "I know there is love that doesn't have to do with taking something from somebody." The latter line is from "Rare Thing," a honeyed, lop-sided soft rock tune arranged for a light-handed rock combo, synthesizers, and a harp performed by Mary Lattimore. Elsewhere, the elegant "Lean" pairs affectionate vocals with strings and acoustic guitar. Electric guitar and bass do make appearances on the album, but stealing focus is an instrument palette that favors synths, Rhodes piano, harp, strings, and percussion, resulting in a conspicuous shift from the jagged indie folk-punk of Hop Along. In terms of vocal delivery, Quinlan only really lets loose here late on "Went to LA," a strummed acoustic guitar entry with light harp and sporadic slide guitar that ends in full-throated wails. Hearing someone with such a powerful voice be so tender on the rest of the album makes the empathic, seemingly timely set all the more moving. Following eight original songs, Likewise wraps up with a skittering cover of Built to Spill's "Carry the Zero," which indulges in a closing groan of feedback.

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