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Live and Learn

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Album Review

Indie pop sextet House of Fools effortlessly conjure up images of warm summer days spent flitting about barefoot in the countryside with their full-length debut, Live and Learn. As with the blue skies and pure white clouds of their 2006 eponymous EP, most of these tracks sound like they're being played as the band walks down the side of some backwoods road lazily kicking up dirt. But Live and Learn is a more dynamic record than that earlier EP. The group explores lusher arrangements and more varied tones, and works to build each song up with charming layers rather than just resting on one pretty section (see the vibrant "Kiss the Haze"). Though the album's first half seems to sonically be all peaches and cream, as on the twinkling "It Could Be Easy" and openhearted "My Life Before Today" (the latter pulled from their prior EP), the farther one gets into the second half, clouds roll in and subtly turn the proceedings into a more somber affair. Sunshine still pokes its head out, as in the '60s-inspired pop of "Go Down," but songs like "Interested" and especially the thrilling buildup of "I Heard a Rumor" bring a darker restlessness to the table. This other side of House of Fools is a welcome surprise; seeing that they're not afraid to get a little downtrodden and dirty gives them a human quality that pure and consistent sunshine often floods out. "I should know what it feels like, this emptiness inside...coursing through my veins, erasing everything," from the dignified sadness of "Pour Me Out," is seemingly drowning in grayness, which is a far cry from the sun-touched arrangements starting things off. By the ending title track, however, the mood has shifted again, the despondence replaced with, fittingly enough, a contented calm. These tonal changes never sacrifice the album's overall cohesiveness, and instead help each track to achieve a distinct identity. Together they make Live and Learn a rewarding listen, and House of Fools a band to keep an eye on.


Formed: Greensboro, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Greensboro, NC's House of Fools was originally a side project for the Necessary vocalist Josh King that started when he began writing songs on the side with keyboardist Matt Bowers. Though a local favorite, the Necessary soon took a back seat to House of Fools, and the two recruited most of King's old bandmates, bassist Jeff Linn and guitarists Joel Kiser and David McLaughlin, to join up with the Fools. With the final addition of new drummer Phil Bell, the sextet was complete. Hooking up with producer...
Full Bio
Live and Learn, House of Fools
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