There's some things I've realized over my years listening to music. Third Eye Blind will never top their debut album, neither will matchbox twenty, and the same can be said for Los Angeles Pop-Rockers Lifehouse. That being said, this latest effort comes closer than any of their prior releases have and is a tribute to the band's staying power that it is actually picking up steam ten years into its' history. This album by far has the most depth to it in comparison to previous releases "Who We Are," "Stanley Climbfall" and their 2005 self-titled effort. The album plays out as such:
1. All In- 9/10
Rhythmic verses build up nicely to an uptempo soaring chorus. This is a great way to start off the album, and is sure to be a great song to hear live.
2. Nerve Damage- 7/10
When I first heard the intro of this song, I thought I was listening to the Foo Fighters' "Pretender." This song builds up slightly, but is one of the weaker songs on the album because it really doesn't have a hook to pull you in.
3. Had Enough- 10/10
Surefire third single in my opinion. Great verses mixed with solid backing vocals build up to a very catchy chorus. This is a real toe tapper that will be another great song to hear live.
4. Halfway Gone- 8/10
After hearing all the other songs on this album, it's surprising that this was picked as the first single. The tune is catchy and uptempo enough, but it lacks the hooks of some of the other more catchy singles. Nonetheless, still a solid song that is doing great at radio right now.
5. It Is What It Is- 10/10
If possible, I'd give this song a 12. It's up there with "Broken" and "Simon" for me as one of my favorite Lifehouse songs. Different in many ways than any other Lifehouse song (a digital style beat to it similar to what you would hear in onerepublic's hit song "Apologize") and in others very similar (amazing lyrics and ridiculously catchy hooks), this is a standout that I would be completely shocked if it weren't released as a single. Relatable, catchy, emotional, Jason Wade is at his absolute best on this track. If you are thinking of downloading only one song on this album, this is the one!
6. From Where You Are- 9/10
Love this song, and at first was upset that it was taking up a spot on the new album as this track in its exact form has been available on iTunes for over a year, I'm feeling more and more that it fits in nicely and adds to the collection more than it detracts from it. A slow acoustic ballad that is filled with emotion, this track is an example of vintage Lifehouse.
7. Smoke & Mirrors- 7/10
Midtempo tune that has potential to grow on the listener. You can sense a slight country twang to this song during the verses.
8. Falling In- 9/10
An intro of just an acoustic guitar strumming and Jason Wade singing, this song builds into a solid midtempo tune with extremely catchy hooks. This is a pleasant love song that is simple and great all at once.
9. Wrecking Ball- 7/10
Don't get me wrong, I like Bryce's voice, but I don't like it as much as Jason's, so I'm still undecided on how I feel about this track, as it is Bryce's first go at handling lead vocals on a Lifehouse track. Maybe it's the song, maybe it's his voice, this song just doesn't connect as well as the others for me.
10. Here Tomorrow Gone Today- 6/10
Auto-tuned and digitized is not the world Lifehouse needs to be living in. While I give them props for trying something new, let's hope this midtempo digitized track is the last of its kind as this experiment is deemed a failure in this reviewer's opinion.
11. By Your Side- 9/10
Another solid midtempo ballad with beautiful lyrics and solid backing vocals.
12. In Your Skin- 8/10
Uptempo rock tune with rhythmic drum beats and catchy verses,
The Next 4 Tracks are on the Deluxe version only, but they are definitely worth upgrading.
13. All That I'm Asking For- 9/10
Should have replaced "Here Tomorrow Gone Today" on the main album on my album, this track is a must have for any Lifehouse fan. Beautiful midtempo ballad that is arranged perfectly with amazing background vocals and heartfelt lyrics.
14. Crash & Burn- 8/10
Another catchy midtempo number.
15. Everything (Live In Studio)- 8/10
Similar to the reproduced version of "Storm" off their last album, this isn't nearly as good as the original, but it is nice to know that Lifehouse hasn't forgotten about their fans' affinity for this amazing song.
16. Near Life Experience- 7/10
This song has a rather folksy, Bob Dylan type vibe to it. If you like that kind of music, you will enjoy this song, as it keeps a slow tempo and Jason Wade sings in a very Dylan-esque manner throughout the verses.
For those keeping track, that is 7 songs with a 9 rating or higher, something that definitely has not been the case for prior Lifehouse releases (check out my prior Lifehouse reviews if you want further proof). There are some misses, but they are more than made up for by the wide range of top tier tunes scattered throughout "Smoke & Mirrors." The future is bright for Lifehouse, and this album is sure to be spinning away at radio for years to come.