Doomsday device

By SAM PFEIFLE  |  February 7, 2007

Other than that Tom Waits thing, Hopkins doesn’t miss many beats, either. Other than work from his Line of Force bandmates Chuck Gagne (drums, also of Dominic and the Lucid) and Matt Hansen (bass), Hopkins put this album together by his lonesome, contributing acoustic and electric guitars, piano, string arrangements via keyboard (I’m assuming), organ, and trumpet (at least). While that might make the album seem manufactured at times, it also makes it intense and infused with Hopkins’s personality. This leads to an aesthetic unlike the precise and clean sound that many indie producers are putting out these days. Instead, Doomsday is a loose and raucous affair that stumbles and shuffles with a purpose. It’s like all of the songs here were built for use as encores, with every crowd member drunkenly singing along, swaying under the rosy glow of lighters held aloft.

Kurt Cobain on “Polly”? That’s not far off.

Hopkins is indecorous and blunt, but it’s pretty clear he’s got a good heart (like Hugh Laurie on House, maybe) on songs like the jazzy, “Smooth Operator”-esque “I Was Alone” and the playful title track. “Doomsday,” populated with just vocals, a stand-up bass, and an acoustic guitar, could have come off the new Norah Jones album, actually, except for those points when Hopkins is gargling his lines like Fat Albert.

There’s a point on the new Shins album (my take: not as initially breathtaking as Chutes Too Narrow, and without the individual standout tracks of Oh, Inverted World, but the best album yet from first to last note) when James Mercer sings that he feels like a guy on the handlebars of a bike driven by a blind man. Yep, that’s as a good a take on living in America as you can get nowadays, and I’m sure Hopkins agrees with the sentiment, but this album shows he isn’t content to just be along for the ride.

Make Love ‘Til Doomsday | Released by Frank Hopkins with his band Line of Force | Waxmen open | at the Big Easy, in Portland | Feb 8

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