Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Lifehouse: bland, but not necessarily boring

by Amy Willard

With their first single “Halfway Gone” released back in October many were expecting Lifehouse to return re-energized in their fifth album, Smoke & Mirrors. The upbeat tempo and synthesized vox were a misleading preview to a record that can be better described as both raw and reserved.

There are 12 tracks on the standard version (13 if you order the full album) and 17 total for the deluxe, that all feature a familiar Lifehouse formula of midtempo melodies and earnest croons of lead singer, Jason Wade. At first listen, one will notice, and probably hone in on the fact that Smoke & Mirrors falls short on diversity in comparison to its popular predecessor Who We Are.

The simple beats and even simpler lyrics are not quite enough to establish significantly memorable tracks, but on the deluxe version one will find a more distinctive Lifehouse, as “Here Tomorrow Gone Today” boasts a dynamic change with its energized tempo and distorted vox. Although many of the songs follow a similar pattern, perhaps there is beauty in the bland as fans are introduced to a Lifehouse that is a little more stripped down than the one they are accustomed to.

Contrary to its name, Smoke & Mirrors, does not attempt to mislead listeners by getting caught up in overtly complicated metaphors. Rather, Wade does away the overbearing complexity, by directly preserving the emotion of familiar situations as he simply sings the reality, “Too long we’ve been denying, now we’re tired of trying, we’ve hit a wall and we can’t get over it” (“It Is What It Is”).

Although the songs may not stand out amongst other releases of its genre this year, the toned down, yet heartfelt melodies are certain to appeal to many. Do not expect Smoke & Mirrors to revolutionize music of today, but rather serve as inspiration for a more genuine focus in songwriting.

Song recommendations: “All In” “Halfway Gone” “Smoke & Mirrors” “It Is What It Is” “Here Tomorrow Gone Today”

Smoke & Mirrors is available in stores and online. You can also catch Lifehouse at the 1st Mariner Arena on March 18 as they kick off their four month tour with Daughtry.