According to a quote posted on Pete Hopkins’ official site, former MTV veejay Adam Curry thinks “you know there is a revolution coming” when you hear Hopkins’ music.
I would like to have some of what Adam Curry has been smoking.
This isn’t really a knock on Pete Hopkins, who is a talented singer, above-average songwriter, and seems to be a nice guy. It’s really nothing more than good old-fashioned befuddlement. Hopkins contacted me for a review after reading my rave of the most recent Jeremy Fisher record over at Bullz-Eye. Stupidly, I assumed this meant Hopkins and Fisher lived in the same musical neighborhood — and when I visited Hopkins’ site, and read quotes like Curry’s, I was prepared to hear something special.
Here’s the reality: Odd Size Baggage is a collection of home-produced adult contemporary ballads with the occasional rhythmic twist. April Roberts of L.A.’s Rock City News may have heard Hopkins perform and declared, “look out Justin Timberlake — and Paul Simon, for that matter,” but Hopkins actually sounds more like Jason Mraz than either of those artists. He isn’t teeth-grindingly annoying like Mraz, but he does suffer from basement-level production on some of his songs — tracks like “Killin’ Me,” with their clunky drum machines and silky over-emoting, veer perilously close to smooth jazz territory.
Is it bad? Of course not — if he wasn’t teeth-grindingly annoying, Mraz would be an admirably elastic pop vocalist, and that’s exactly how Hopkins puts himself across here. The songs might be hampered by the absence of an actual band, but he knows how to write a memorable melody; as first albums go, Odd Size Baggage is actually fairly impressive. Hopkins is at his best when he keeps things light and moderately uptempo, as on “I Won’t Cry” (download) and “Be My Lover” (download). If he can hone those chops, these tracks will just be the start of a promising career. Adam Curry, meanwhile, will still be off his goddamn rocker — but hey, we all knew that in 1988.