Live and Learn
Drive Thru Records appears to have taken a gamble on House of Fools and won. The Greensboro, NC sextet - recently on tour with Brand New - is quite a departure from the label’s notoriously pop-punk roster. Following their eponymous 2006 EP, House of Fools released their first full-length album, Live and Learn. The 15-track compilation, including hidden track “Blame You,” runs the gamut between indie and rock with ethereal layered guitars (a la Jimmy Eat World), eclectic yet pop-sensible instrumentation (think horns, banjo, accordion and shredding guitar solos), and retro vocals reminiscent of The Beach Boys.
Live and Learn might not reel you in on the first spin because it’s a conceptual album that requires further commitment, but if you’re willing to live with it for a few days, it’s bound to take up permanent residency in your stereo. Lead vocalist Josh King has such a bittersweet and demanding voice that he really sells lines like, “I’m coming to claim what I consider mine, even if we all go down . . . I want to get my gun to prove how much I love you.” This is a really good body of work, but the mid-tempo songs tend to resonate most. High points are title track “Live and Learn” and “What Are We Supposed To Do.” Produced by Walt Vincent, this album focuses on the topic of male sensitivity, weakness and desire that’s packaged in such an overwhelmingly epic way that is anything but emo-passé.