The consensus critical acclaim for Hop Along’s sophomore LP, Painted Shut, felt like a foregone conclusion, and the band’s singer and songwriter Frances Quinlan was given the title of the best voice in indie rock without much dissent. But Google “Hop Along Get Disowned Review”, and you’ll see that the band’s proper 2012 debut (Quinlan had released a solo album under the name) was as universally overlooked as Painted Shut was universally praised. With its swift reissue on Saddle Creek, Get Disowned now feels like it could’ve been Painted Shut’s complicated, difficult follow-up, but one that stands to be just as beloved, because this band remains virtually peerless in indie rock.
In 2012, Hop Along weren’t the robust, road-tested band that could be tasked with warming up amphitheaters for heartland indie acts like the War on Drugs, Modest Mouse, and Dr. Dog. Get Disowned‘s original release also happened at least a year before any of the narratives that would either directly or peripherally benefit the band—Philadelphia emerging as the nation’s indie rock capital, the emo revival, mainstream attention to Fest, the annual October weekend in Gainesville, Fla., that serves as a proving ground for many of the bands responsible for those first two narratives. Praise would eventually start to accumulate, the most notable being a tweet where blink–182’s Mark Hoppus called this record’s “Tibetan Pop Stars” “the most painfully beautiful song ever.”
Whatever your qualms with the source, Hoppus’ words reached an audience for whom a blink-182 cosign could make a difference. And you know what? “Tibetan Pop Stars” is painfully beautiful, though perhaps not as indicative of any vestigial emo roots as the nearly seven-minute song written from the perspective of a talking mattress, serving as an impartial arbiter in a breakup that just won’t end (“Laments”). But along with beautiful pain and painful beauty, “Tibetan Pop Stars” is also really, really funny, with Quinlan seeking escape from being tied down in any way, especially a boring relationship. And if anyone did ask her about her significant other, fuck something as basic as “he’s in Canada”: Quinlan’s beau is a seducer of Tibetan pop stars and connoisseur of luxury automobiles. It’s the work of a whimsical, wild imagination, but it’s also an alibi, one that will probably get the asker to let the subject drop and leave her alone.
The humor of Get Disowned may have deflected from just how brutally honest and devastating it is. In 2012, Quinlan described her ultimate songwriting goal as, “finding [a] character and creating a world,” which seemed more in line with the literary, referential Painted Shut than it does with the songs here. The tragedies and personal failings on Get Disowned feel more like autobiography—“Trouble Found Me” expresses the horrifying imagery of her stepfather after suffering a catastrophic accident (“you came in with your jaw torn, still talking”), along with the vivid memories of technicalities that tend to stick with trauma sufferers. Quinlan remembers things like the chicken in the oven before arriving to the hospital and seeing nurses playing poker while a blind man convalesces in the next bed over. The account of a family friend’s death on the rollicking roots-rocker “Sally II” starts with a literally breathtaking mention of “that unsettling smell had gotten into all the tenants’ rooms,” and it’s the mundane forensic details that are even more unnerving: the apartment is littered with weightlifting magazines and a piece of junk mail with a fake million-dollar check (“you thought it was the real thing”).