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 and 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 and 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.