The Fools – Lost and Found

The Fools - Lost and Found

If you’re checking this out expecting to read about a second coming by the Massachusetts-based New Wave act from the dawn of the 1980’s, you’ve decidedly come to the wrong place. Those Fools were the ones who took The Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” and turned it into a snide and rollicking parody entitled “Psycho Chicken,” replete with fowl sound effects. These Fools – just two ladies who met on their college soccer team – are not channeling any zippy vibes with their emotionally detached folk. The Fools of yore, always as cheeky and vivacious as their music, went on tours with The Knack and Van Halen. The girls who comprise today’s Fools (Jen Tobin and Uchenna Bright) seem like they’ll be on Brooklyn’s cafe circuit for years to come.

Truthfully, it’s probably not fair to engage in a compare and contrast exercise with these disparate outfits. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sullen, fleeting tales of introspection. Yet with only eight tracks – many of which are less than three minutes in length – and a very shallow emotional contour, The Fools’ Lost and Found plays like yet another bedroom recording that all too hastily found its way to Myspace. Jen Tobin tends to sings as if a less affected version of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, and the album’s brevity whisks away any tantalizing ideas before they are given the opportunity to gestate.

Tracks like “Cosmic Love” and “Open Door” seem ready for the next local open mic night, with lovely acoustic guitar patterns and Tobin’s droning vocals. Bright’s bass playing alternates between barely perceptible and – in slightly more impassioned moments – shockingly lucid. Likeminded blueprints are adhered to on opening cuts “The Lullaby” and “The Dream,” the latter of which also features sedate mallet percussion and lyrics such as, “Everything seems to be alright / perfect circles in the sky.”

Though a far cry from what one might constitute as cheery or sanguine, The Fools do occasionally demonstrate a little more drive. “The Great Whale” is the type of tune Jack Johnson might strum, were he sitting on a beach blanket by himself after a breakup. For more effective imagery, the ladies even add the sounds of sea current to the song’s intro. “A Good Day” has some boogie to it, with pulsing eighth note keyboard rhythms, handclaps, and Tobin singing, “Good morning / and welcome to that burn inside your belly.” It’s as close to buoyant and lighthearted as these Fools ever get.

Critics have been quick to imply that The Fools are deliberately lo-fi and perhaps even a little challenging to an average set of ears. Not true. If anything, the group suffers from a sense of apathy, so languid at times that the ambience creates an ignorable glaze. Listen to the ethereal echo of closing track “For My Mother,” and reality quickly sets in: nearly every song on Lost and Found plays like it could be a slowburning closer.

For all its shortcomings, let me be clear: Lost and Found is not a bad album. Well suited for rainy days and chilly nights, The Fools seem like perfect material for the PA system at your local independent java proprietor. In some ways though, this is also music of the most frustrating variety, so demure and gentle that it quickly blends in with its surroundings. When your sulking requires a soundtrack and a freshly steamed latte, these ladies have your back.