House of Fools - Live and Learn (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

House of Fools

Live and Learn (2007)


House of Fools is back! Remember them? The band featured on the criminally horrendous Drive-Thru tribute to Bob Dylan, whose debut EP made virtually no waves despite being on one of the biggest indie labels in the U.S. and still remains in virtually obscurity? Yeah, them. They're back!

Live and Learn is House of Fools' debut full-length, and from the sounds of it, they certainly do have plenty of living and learning to do before they'll be ready to write a distinct and memorable record. The album is a sonic identity crisis, as the band seemingly can't decide if they want to be Conor Oberst, Tom Petty, Paulson, or Journey. If House of Fools were in the Army, Live and Learn would be considered a complete clusterfuck.

The disc gets off to an unfairly bad start with "Introduction," a bland acoustic lullaby matched only by its dull lyrics: "After all I've been through / I'll do what I've got to / People used to say great things / Are gonna happen anyway / But now I'm losing my mind half the time finding a reason to rhyme." "It Could Be Easy" follows, and if nothing else, serves as a breezy pop tune with some interesting, punctuating bass-playing and catchy multi-part harmonies. "My Life Belongs Today" is much like a less engaging version of Chin Up, Chin Up, while the chorus to "Kiss the Haze" is jacked straight from Ozma.

"Me and Everyone I Know" seems to bite the title from the infinitely superior indie film "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (Youtube it) and goes for an upbeat folksy style. Bright Eyes influences pour through the piano-led "What Are We Supposed to Do?," which never really seems to get off the ground. "Go Down" shoots for an alt-country feel and features the album's best lyrics, a paranoia-induced account of watching a cheating lover slip away. At times, House of Fools is willing enough to forego originality entirely, as "Pour Me Out" rehashes Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" in uninspired fashion.

With this latest heap of output, it's hard to feel that Drive-Thru isn't desperately scraping for something to click. With the gold record days of Something Corporate and New Found Glory behind, the label seems to be searching for the next big thing. Who knows what that will be, but it certainly isn't House of Fools, whose Live and Learn is an aimless and misguided catch-all that unfortunately doesn't deliver.