The chaos that Hopewell throws in from the onset of “ Hopewell & The Birds of Paradise”, including a number of middle-eastern sounding instruments, horns, and dreamy-pop vocals really is enough to make listeners’ ears perk up. “Calcutta” comes to the plate with a much more traditional and coherent assault on Hopewell’s listeners, but does not completely abandon the Bacchic nature of the first track. The ropey bass present on this track, along with the bongos are what really solidifies this track and gives it a linear outcome. Each track on the disc gives the listener base something new to chew on; for example, the chorus on “Praise Twice” couples with the sixties-looking synthesizers to gain strength, and perhaps most impressively, the bass line present on this track makes a web (due to its intricate nature) that will ensare anyone listening to the disc. Hopewell are shysters in the sense that the musical fare on this disc feels so calm and laid-back, but is in reality a taut, intense experience. The guitar/drum dichotomy in “Sugar In The Honey” looks much more to “Tuesday’s Gone” than any “No Rain” could. The self-titled hump track uses instruments to create the sounds of birds,a style used again in the follow-up track “The Notbirds”.
“The Notbirds” is made all the more radio-friendly after the instrumental, experimental nature of the title track. Moving into a deeper, more nuanced sound for “Hello Radio”, Hopewell is perhaps at their Doors-esque best. With an infusion of The Polyphonic Spree to the deadpan-vocals of Jason, a completely new beast is created, one that can only be called Hopewell. Even if some tracks feel less intricate than others ( a good example of this is “Kings & Queens”, Hopewell still has a critical victory in the sense that they can approach a number of styles and use them simultaneously in the construction of a differing, yet compelling sound for “Hopewell and the Birds of Appetite”.
Hopewell has hints of The Flaming Lips, Bauhaus, Elton John, Neil Young, The Doors, and They Might Be Giants, along with about 100 other bands; it is precisely the band’s application of their influences, along with their ear for arrangement that makes “Hopewell and the Birds Of Appetite” such a good disc. “God Is Near (A Diamond Suture)” is a perfect example of this syncretism, and is so close to the end of the album that it is surprising in its quality. Hopewell is in it for the long hall, not the two or three radio hits many an album is structured ‘round.
Top Tracks: God Is Near, Praise Twice
Hopewell – Hopewell and The Birds Of Paradise / 2005 Tee Pee Records / 12 Tracks / http://www.hopewell.tv / http://www.teepeerecords.com / Reviewed 13 May 2005