Mercury Rev keyboardist Jason Russo has lots of wisdom to share with his new band. For example, life is like a tree.
Hopewell is the type of band that thinks they are the ultimate indie band. This is mostly because they’re fronted by one Jason Russo, who’s spent years honing his skills in Mercury Rev, which inflates the egos of the other four members. In fact, Russo and company really have nothing in their fluttery, easy-going flourishes that we haven’t already heard: a pleasant and varied range of textures that never interrupt the dignified flow; fuzzy guitar when guitar is needed; sing-songy lyrics gushing with naïveté disturbingly close to the style of the White Stripes; and plain, rigid drumbeats to make Meg White proud. There’s no doubt this is a soundtrack tailor-made for the summer, grappling with a full-on concept relating to human life (compared to a tree in “Tree”, hence the cover art), but the group’s reliance on chirping out sickly sweet “hoohs” in the middle of their songs is offputting to say the least (though still preferable to an ear-splitting falsetto test-run by Russo on opener “In Full Bloom”), and like the Stripes or Franz Ferdinand, the way Hopewell work it into their music is ever so mechanic and stilted that it severely hampers the emotion they need to convince us.