Two Hand Fools - House Parts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Two Hand Fools

House Parts (2011)

Side Jar

I first discoved Two Hand Fools when exploring the Rad Fest lineup. I found their past endeavors, Who's Driving? and Rivers, to both be an infectious blend of folk punk and boy/girl pop-punk. While the songs were earnest, I found a band trying to find themselves while adrift in an overpopulated sea. Regardless, I was eager to see them live, expecting something a little more laid back amongst all the more aggressive punk rock I was slated to see that weekend.

It would be putting it mildly were I to say I was taken aback by their live show. It was like being caught in a hurricane, waves of sound crashing around me. The crowd was electric and I was left wondering if I had heard the same band on those records. Typically, live shows are more enjoyable if I am familiar with a band's work before the show. Two Hand Fools only played one song I knew and they were, unquestionably, the best band I saw that weekend. I couldn't reconcile what I had seen with what I had expected and it was the most pleasant of surprises. And it left me feeling cheated by their physical releases.

Enter House Parts, a project I'm told has been in the works for over two years. It was worth all the time and effort. It would have been easy for Two Hand Fools to continue along the course they had charted. If this album had ended up being a cross between early Against Me! and Lemuria with a healthy coat of polish, I would not have been surprised nor disappointed. Instead, I am treated to an absolutely chaotic delight. House Parts plays like a mix of the Replacements and the Mamas & the Papas with a healthy dose of punk to liven it up. The result is an album that challenges the band and the listener.

While "Green Light, Go!" is the go-to track for those new to the band, "Drifting" is a prime example of a band not afraid to take chances. It calls to mind early folk rock in the vein of the Byrds, and pushes them out of the kiddie pool and into the ocean. I always appreciate it when bands are willing to veer off the beaten path, especially when the product is as rewarding as House Parts. The only thing that hinders the album is that it lacks the energy of their live show. If they can somehow find a way to incorporate that energy with the adept songwriting on display here, they will have a landmark album.

As it is, this is still one of the better records I have heard this year. I would encourage anyone who is a fan of folkier pop-punk to check this album out.