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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

‘Likewise’: A delicate indie-pop masterpiece that grows on you

The Channels Art Pages | STAFF REVIEW
Album artwork from Frances Quinlan’s “Likewise”


Frances Quinlan is known for her voice. 

Her seemingly effortless ability to transition smoothly between ethereal pitches and gritty growls at the drop of a hat allows her to show a depth of expression few can imitate. 

This technique is especially prevalent on her solo debut release “Likewise,” an album that allows an even more intimate peek into the workings of Quinlan’s unique songwriting. 

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It’s as if the listener is sitting in the room with her, hearing her work out the songs as she goes. 

“Likewise” is Quinlan’s first release under her own name. Known for fronting the Philly-based indie-rock band “Hop Along,” she has made a name for herself in indie-music circuits around the country. And while all band members appear on the album, it serves as a very stark contrast from the work she has done in the past. 

Awaiting Hop Along’s 2018 release “Bark Your Head Off Dog,” Quinlan and fellow bandmate and producer Joe Reinhart hit the studio to work on songs she had written but deemed unfit for her main band. 

Given, while her album does traverse footing already tread by Hop Along, it successfully conquers new territories more fit for an intimate setting.

“Piltdown Man” sets the cloudy tone of the album perfectly. 

We are welcomed to the album with the squeak of tennis shoes on a gymnasium floor, conjuring images of childhood innocence, a theme that “Likewise” explores. 

The highlight of the album is “Rare Thing,” the album’s lead single. The lyrics reference a dream she had of her niece. “My love in the dream, you were already speaking/ I was too shocked to make any one of my tired speeches/ Listen, that’s a rare thing for me.” The song explores the complicated tenderness of growing up. 

She continues: “Come to think of it/ The dream was a nightmare with no one who knew me just then.” 

Quinlan’s lyrics are poetry. 

Unobserved, my voice grew increasingly gruesome in the quiet,” she sings in “Detroit Lake.” She has a way of tying together her internal monologue and producing beauty, and that’s a rare thing.

The lyrics dance between so specific that they were no doubt taken out of real-life experience to abstract imagery, contributing to the dreamlike motif repeated throughout the album. 

“Likewise” has a shaky, delicate tone to it. It’s light as a feather, and that’s what works about it. 

We’re treated to two acoustic ballads left off of Hop Along’s last release: “A Secret” and “Went to LA.”  Both songs are a return to form for Quinlan, harkening back to her days of playing open mics on long college nights. 

This album has to grow on you. Upon first listen, its abstract themes and instrumentation might be enough to throw one off completely. But the ones that do come back for repeat listens will be consumed by the tender yet menacing notes that Quinlan sings so well. 

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