Smoke & Mirrors
Lifehouse erupted onto the music scene in 2001 with the smash hit "Hanging by a Moment." Though that track never topped the singles chart, its 55 weeks in the Hot 100 made it the biggest song of 2001 and propelled the band's debut, No Name Face, past the double-platinum mark. In a post-grunge scene filled with morose rockers, the L.A. band's optimistic outlook connected with a lot of listeners.
A similarly upbeat attitude permeated the band's three releases since then. Perhaps due to a softer, more adult-contemporary sound, however, none of Lifehouse's subsequent efforts equaled that early '00s success. And that, in turn, may explain why the band's fifth effort, Smoke & Mirrors, features a return to the kind of anthemic rock riffs that first put the band on the map.
On "All In," a man presses through fear as he realizes that he's "falling harder than a landslide" en route to declaring, "I'm all in, I'm all in for life." "From Where You Are" laments the distance that separates two people ("I feel the beating of your heart/ … I miss you/And I wish you were here"). "Falling In" revels in the effervescent blush of new love, which prompts a man to promise, "I would never do you wrong." Similar promises fill "By Your Side ("When everything's wrong, I will still be around"). After a wounding breakup, a man who's "Had Enough" decides to relinquish negative emotions and chooses to believe that lasting love is still possible somewhere down the road.
"Nerve Damage" is an insightful rocker highlighting compassion toward another's emotional pain. The song also describes someone who knows they're making bad choices as "hell-bent" but still "looking for a godsend." "In Your Skin" encourages those who are struggling to embrace hope ("Hold on another day/Face the truth, it's hard to swallow/It's time to begin, there's only one life"). Chris Daughtry guests on "Had Enough," which addresses letting go of negative emotions after a relationship's painful dissolution.
On "It Is What It Is," a man takes responsibility for the ways his shortcomings, including deception, have undermined a now-broken relationship. And with lyrics such as "You're all talk and nothing to say/We don't want what you're giving away," no one's falling for the liar on "Here Tomorrow Gone Today."
The title track begins with lines indicating that two people have been living together without any mention of marriage: "There was a time, was a place back when/You and I were living alone together/We held each other in the middle of the night/And swore somehow we'd make it better." The song perhaps alludes to this problematic arrangement later when frontman Jason Wade sings, "Gotta break out of this place we're in/Runnin' out of time and out of sin."
Since Lifehouse's latest amps up the volume a bit, fans of Daughtry and Switchfoot should feel right at home. And while there's some soul-searching stuff involving romances that have run amok, the band's lyrics rarely set up camp in the land of melancholy self-pity. Even in dark moments, second chances always seem possible. And more often than not, Lifehouse focuses on the possibility of finding lasting love.