Introducing Smoke & Mirrors, Lifehouse's fifth studio album and follow up to Who We Are, released in 2007. Lead singer / guitarist Jason Wade, drummer Rick Woolstenhulme, bassist Bryce Soderberg and newly added guitarist Ben Carey, along with long time producer Jude Cole, have created a set that combines their live sound with great record making. With tens of millions of radio spins garnered over the span of 4 albums, Lifehouse is no stranger to success and great record making.
Smoke & Mirrors started out with a mission to capture the live, rock side of the band; a sound they had perfected after three years of solid touring. Smoke & Mirrors properly defines the best that Lifehouse has to offer, showcasing a rocking band full of new hit records for Lifehouse fans new and old!
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Music Review: Smoke & Mirrors| Posted March 23, 2010
GENRE: ALTERNATIVE ROCK
LABEL: GEFFEN RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: MARCH 2, 2010
ANDREW JARNAGIN’S RATING: 3 OUT OF 5
THOMAS JENKINS’ RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5
OVERALL RATING: 3.25 OUT OF 5
Andrew’s Jarnagin’s Review:
Lifehouse is one of the biggest bands in music today. Their debut album No Name Face went double-platinum. They have several songs dating back across their four albums that still receive airplay, including “You and Me” and “Hanging By a Moment.” They have sold upwards of fifteen million album overall. These guys are set for life. Smoke & Mirrors continues their signature sound, to moderate success.
Album opener “All In” has every marking of both a typical Lifehouse song and a hit radio single. It begins with an acoustic guitar and a driving drumbeat, leading into a soaring chorus that I can’t help but feel has already been used by the band. Jason Wade seems to be listening to a bit of Nickelback lately; he does a great Chad Kroeger impression. “In Your Skin” is literally indistinguishable from a number ballads from Canada’s finest. Lyrically, “All In” again continues in the Lifehouse tradition of ambiguity. Through the song, and much of the album, it is difficult to tell whether Wade is singing about a girl or God. In general, the lyrics are very vague. They mostly deal with ideas of love, love, and relationships. I feel almost no connection with anything Wade sings. It almost seems as though they were written specifically to get on a Top 40 chart.
Though the previous paragraph depicts this album as utter garbage, that’s not the case. Even though the majority of the album is recycled, overproduced, and generally generic, Lifehouse is successful for a reason. They are very very good at what they do. Several songs have the potential to be big hits, including single “Halfway Gone,” “It Is What It Is,” and “Smoke and Mirrors”. Really, almost any song could have been a single. Overall, the album has some of the best hooks Lifehouse has ever created. “Nerve Damage” is an incredible, and different, song. It begins with a slow, bluesy verse that suits Wade’s voice excellently. The chorus has some of the oomph some of the other rockier songs could have used.
Smoke & Mirrors is not a failure; it just seems like we’ve heard most of this already. If you are a diehard Lifehouse fan, this will be right up your alley. If, like me, you have only listened to the occasional single, this album will not change your opinion of the band. It’s not bad, yet it could have been much better.
Thomas Jenkins’ Review:
Lifehouse has always been one of my favorite bands. When I first started listening to music, they was one of the first I really got into, and “Hanging by a Moment”, “You and Me”, “Spin”, and “Everything” all earned a spot in my “ipod rotation”. Thus, Lifehouse stayed in my top 5 favorite bands for several years. Jason Wade’s signature vocals, the solid instrumentals and lyrics, and their overall solid alternative rock sound were all crucial elements in my fanhood, and I continue to enjoy their music to this day.
Which in a roundabout way leads us to Smoke & Mirrors. I didn’t know what to expect from the 4-piece preceding the release. While I enjoyed the first single, “Halfway Gone”, it was by far the poppiest song the band had ever written, and wasn’t the kind of stuff I wanted to see a whole album full of.
Fans, don’t worry. If you thought “Halfway Gone” was a good example of the album as a whole, you couldn’t be more wrong. “All in” (the opener) is classic Lifehouse rock anthem. If you liked “Disarray” or “First Time” from 2007’s Who We Are, you’ll enjoy this song. While we probably could have seen a little more originality from the band, it’s hard to argue that songs like this aren’t enjoyable, and it’s certainly Lifehouse doing what they do best. The next song, “Nerve Damage”, shows the boys getting a little more creative, with an interesting chorus and good lyrics. After you get past those first two songs, “Had Enough” will be stuck in your head for days. The hooky chorus is insanely catchy, and could easily be a potential radio hit. From there we have the radio single “Halfway Gone”, which is catchy and fun to listen to, and the enjoyable ballads, “It is What it is”, and “From Where You Are”. Each song is solid in it’s own right, and gives fans the LIfehouse they know and love.
From this point, you probably know what this album sounds like. It’s Lifehouse, plain and simple, from start to finish. Also at this point, you probably know if you’re going to buy this album or not. If you’re a Lifehouse fan, you’re going to do so, because you love their sound, and are excited about having another twelve songs worth of it. If you’re not a Lifehouse fan, you probably won’t buy it, and that’s probably the safest decision for you, because if you’ve heard songs from the former albums and disliked them, there’s little chance you’ll end up enjoying Smoke & MIrrors.
That’s the main problem with this album. It seems as though after almost three years it would have been nice if Lifehouse had been a little more imaginative. Instead, though they follow the same formula that got them to this point in their career, and while it seems a little overused at times, it fails to conceal what is really a solid album from the foursome.
Smoke & MIrrors is another solid outing for Lifehouse. While they could have shown been a little more original and tried some new sounds, the final product is still well worth a listen. If you’re a Lifehouse fan, then you’ll love this album. If you’re not, you probably won’t. They haven’t changed their formula, but it’s still as solid as ever, and Smoke & Mirrors definitely deserves a chance in your music library.
Review copy provided courtesy of Geffen Records
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Manifesto. Click here to visit TheChristianManifesto.com today!
super awesome| Posted March 02, 2010
This is a super awesome record. I love how they put lots of emotion into their music. This record has tons of good songs with great lyrics. Lifehouse has really done a good job with this record. It is possibly their best yet.