Live and Learn, the follow-up to House of Fools self-titled EP, is an ambient and bittersweet journey taking the listener through fourteen tracks of pure rock, emotional as it may be. The most interesting thing is the gradual build of intensity. The album begins soft and acoustic and gradually builds to heavy, driving rhythms, intricate guitar riffs almost as complicated as the lyrics, but they are deep and introspect. It's all weaved together and the result is something reminiscent of heavy '70s rock, but with a sharp cutting edge.
House of Fools began as a side project for Josh King vocalist for Necessary, when he began writing songs with Matt Bowers, a keyboard player. However, when House of Fools began to take off Necessary faded away and Jeff Linn (bass), Joel Kiser and David McLaughlin (guitars) were asked to join the new band. Drummer Phil Bell rounds out the six piece band.
The album opener, "Intro" is the mellowest track, simple harmonizing vocals with a stripped bare acoustic accompaniment. It's reflective and peaceful. It melds and merges into the second track, "It Could be Easy," which picks up the tempo and adds a few more layers. And so it goes, with each track being a step higher in intensity until the songs become epic sounding.
A stand-out track is "Until It's Over." With a very Beatle-esque moody tone and tempo, it was as if you could find the song on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It's a complex song with ups and downs, and ebbs and flows, and the first glimpse of where the tracks are headed. The song flows into the following "My Life Before Today," and for the duration of the track things are upbeat and happy again. But whether the tone is up or down, the complexity of the music and the depth of the lyrical content make them an interesting listen.
As I've mentioned the songs flow from one to the other, without as much as a pause, making this truly an album. Though it is obvious it is meant to be a listening experience from beginning to end, the individual tracks are not only strong enough to stand on their own, but interesting pieces of a composition.
A sample of just how dark the album can get, is heard in the next to last track, "Coke and Smoke." Coke is not a reference to soda and it's a song of desperation, pain, and a search for numbness. Though lyrically it is dismal and dark, the music has an energetic and uplifting feel to it as it audibly tumbles and rolls with an urgency, before it drops of to a numbing and sedate ending and title track in "Live and Learn."
House of Fools' Live and Learn was released on the Drive Thru label March 6, 2007 and would be a welcome addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys classic rock with a modern edge. Check out streaming Mp3s for yourself at the band's Myspace Profile page or their Pure Volume page.
2. It Could Be Easy
3. Until It's Over
4. My Life Before Today
5. Kiss The Haze
6. Me And Everyone I Know
7. What Are We Supposed To Do
8. Go Down
9. Better Part Of Me
11. Pour Me Out
12. I Heard A Rumour
13. Coke And Smoke
14. Live And Learn