SOMETIMES Hothouse Flowers seems like a passionate young Celtic soul band. Sometimes they seem like a joke. Sometimes it seems like they can't tell the difference.

Earnest in the young Irish rock mode established by U2, the Flowers are rooted in the music of an earlier generation's preeminent Irish rocker, Van Morrison. Aside from being annoyingly precious, their problem is that they sound too derivative when they emulate Morrison and lost when they don't. "Home," the quintet's second album, was recorded with several producers (including ambient enervator and U2 vet Daniel Lanois) in numerous studios from London to Dublin to New Orleans, and is wider ranging stylistically than its predecessor, "People." That's not necessarily an improvement, though: The band's torpid version of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now," for example, definitely demonstrates their incompetence at Caribbean lilt.

People who liked "People" were likely swept away by its big, barreling tunes. Such are in short supply on the almost obsessively low-key "Home," which clocks in a CD-era length of 56 minutes. That's plenty of time to determine that these Flowers aren't the perennials they may have seemed to "People" watchers.


"Home" (FFRR/London). Appearing Sunday with Andy White at the Bayou.