"If my brain is alive in 2005" Jason Russo sang at the start of The Curved Glass. Well, his brain is alive five years later, and on Birds of Appetite (inspired by Thomas Merton's Zen and the Birds of Appetite), Hopewell's neo-psychedelic rock is a spirited vehicle for Russo's tear-jerking narratives. Within a record about struggle ("and we're living in Calcutta/with one foot in the grave and the other in the gutter"), his subjects are faced with survival, death, and rising floods. He attempts to reassure them ("and if you wake up screaming, know that God is near"), giving the impression that he's witnessed their hardships first-hand. The moderately paced jams, landing somewhere between the Flaming Lips and early-'70s Pink Floyd, adds a pulse to the sadness. Enlivened with trumpet, Hammond organ, and cello, the songs are never quite as enveloping as contempories the Lips or Mercury Rev ("Synthetic Symphony" being a tremendous exception), though unlike those bands, Hopewell takes more time to develop their creations, holding out for something more expressive.
AllMusic Review by Kenyon Hopkin