RIYL: Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray, Matchbox Twenty
When Lifehouse released their edgy debut No Name Face in 2000, their music was leaning more toward alternative and cool – because of the songs and the way they recorded them, but also because of how radio, to some degree, still drove record sales. But as bands like Lifehouse, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind keep aging, their music tends to organically soften. And as it does, they start to mesh on radio with artists such as, say, Edwin McCain or Huey Lewis. And while we all do age, there is something inherently disappointing in watching a band like Lifehouse start to listen too much to producers and radio programmers instead of making the cool music that they used to. Still, these guys can write hit songs in their sleep, and on Smoke & Mirrors, their fifth studio effort, Lifehouse has delivered yet another batch of ear candy that will have little girls swooning. For the rest of us, it’s a nice album, but nothing we haven’t heard before, from Lifehouse or any other bands in their alt/pop genre.
Songs like the upbeat “All In” and “Had Enough” are formulaic, but there are also some nice surprises. The first one is “Nerve Damage,” which is an edgy rocker that even has a bluesy guitar solo that is (gasp) almost 30 seconds long. Then there’s the best track of all, “From Where You Are,” a stunning acoustic ballad that shows singer Jason Wade hasn’t lost a single strand of vocal cord over the past decade. Someday Lifehouse may go back to having creative control. But even so, their music doesn’t exactly suck, and you can’t blame them for chasing a big paycheck. (Geffen 2010)