Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Non-Beauty: Music Review - Lifehouse "Smoke and Mirrors"

I am a huge Lifehouse fan, always have been. Their "No Name Face" album was my first CD ever. Yeah, ever. That is a huge deal, lol. They were also one of my first concerts (it was technically Vertical Horizon but only by a week). I've seen every local concert of theirs (I wouldn't elevate myself to a fangirl, I just like the music).

So, I was super excited for their new album, Smoke & Mirrors. It released yesterday, March 2, but unfortunately I cheated and downloaded it on Friday before purchasing it yesterday (I made up for it, my mom bought a copy too... lol). Thus, I've had some time to listen and give my thoughts track by track:

1) "All In":I only discredit this song a little because of a few of the lyric lines (little weak for such an amazing song). But overall, I love this song. I think it's a perfect choice for an opener on the album of the songs. Some of the words also have a bit of a personal connection for me, so it's another reason I enjoy this song and the band in general, they have a lot of connecting songs for me and my current relationship. This is one of those upbeat, cruising songs that will be fun in summer to listen to with your significant other. I'm weird, I know, this is how I picture things.

2) "Nerve Damage": This song is very interesting for them. It's a different direction and also a risk, but I'm glad they took it. I really love the lyrics and the bass/drum beat. It's a new flavor for them. The heaviness of the track offput me initially but definitely grew on me. If Jason wrote this, he was definitely feeling some intense things when he did it. I also really like the the blues overtone of the song.

3) "Had Enough": This track is unfortunately so-so for me. It may grow on me, but right now I really enjoy the verses but I'm not a big fan of the chorus. The song feels a bit disjointed for me, but I do like the lyrics. It feels like a Lifehouse song, but somehow I feel like they've done this before.

4) "Halfway Gone": The current radio song. Love it. I've loved it since it released. It's 100% them and feels like an appropriate radio hit for them... I hope it gathers more steam on the charts. The lyrics, while a bit repetitive, are a warning to those who aren't all there in their relationships. I feel like a lot of people could relate to the words, either being the one who's "halfway gone", or the one chasing after the one who is "halfway in". The drums are fun, as well, and it's catchy!

5) "It Is What It Is": My favorite track on the album, by far. I love the tone of the song, it's got such a beautiful opening and the words are heartfelt. The idea of the song is great as well, Jason stated that it was a neutral break up song where you don't side with the one who ended it, or the person who got their heart broken. It's just a this is how it is, and this isn't working. I think it's beautiful, the track shows a maturity in them.

6) "From Where You Are": This was a previously released track for the Allstate drunk driving campaign. Always enjoyed it... I think my only complaint is the placement of it on the album, it's almost in the wrong spot, I feel. Very sad song as it expresses a deep feeling of loss for someone.

7) "Smoke & Mirrors": 2nd favorite track. Love the tone, love the words, even the slight country feel. I don't know how I pick my favorite songs to be honest, there's just something about them that hooks me. This is one that I find myself clicking to in my car over and over, it's a good driving song. Favorite line? "Running out of time, and out of sin, we were living smoke and mirrors anyway."

8) "Falling In": I swear, the beginning of this reminds me of You and Me! Not that it's a bad thing... it changes completely about 16 seconds in. This is overall a good track, I definitely enjoy it. It's a cute little love song... nothing fantastic or original on the lyrics side, but slightly catchy. "Everytime I see your face, my heart takes off on a high speed chase". Good stuff.

9) "Wrecking Ball": Ah yes, Bryce's singing debut. I have to admit that I don't adore this song's verses but I love the chorus, especially the harmony. I give congrats to Bryce for putting himself out there by singing by himself, and I do like the words (don't know whether he wrote them or not) and the idea of this song. It's got a rather basic guitar and drum scheme, which does make the song slightly boring about 1/2 way through.

10) "Here Tomorrow, Gone Today": This song still hasn't fully grown on me. I love the four-on-the-floor beat, and the different sound of the track... my boyfriend called it the "sitar-ey" sound in the beginning. Again, the heaviness of the chorus surprised me but I'm happy for it. It has a sort of indian/exotic feel in some bits.

11) "By Your Side": I, again, like this track but it falters a bit again in the words on some lines. I can look past it though as this song has quickly become one of my boyfriend and I's "songs". (Natasha Bedingfield's "Say It Again" is OUR song, for the record). I like the tempo of the song, the way the guitar and drums sort of roll together... it's hard to describe but the beat just sort of rolls on through the song.

12) "In Your Skin": Love the guitar in the beginning, not crazy about the rest of the song. It will grow on me probably, it reminds me a bit of "Quasimodo" in the verses. A lot of the later songs on CDs sometimes roll past me and I find myself clicking back to Tracks 1-7 on a lot of albums until I force myself to let the later songs grow on me. I'm sure this one will do that to me, I do like the words.


13) "All That I'm Asking For": Very pretty track, melodic and definitely a slower one. Love the lyrics and the feel of the song, I think it should have been featured earlier in the album as I feel like a lot of people may skip this one.

14) "Crash and Burn": I have been waiting so long for this track to be released. I remember when they played it live so many years ago and we were all so excited and 3 years later, it's coming out. I'm happy but will admit that I am a little let down by it at the same time. The verses are fine and just as catchy as the live version, but they did something to the chorus to make it less interesting. It's something with the processing of Jason's voice, it's like they smoothed it over so the roughness that hooked me on the song just isn't there. I don't know, I think this track just had something magical live that doesn't translate on the record.

15) "Near Life Experience": May grow on me, it's very Dylan-esque and I'm not a huge fan of his so this song bores me a little. I want to like it, but I'm having trouble.

16) "Everything (Live in Studio)": You can't touch the original, but this is fantastic. "Everything" is one of my all time favorite songs from them and it was actually THE song that made me go buy No Name Face. The song is beautiful, the words are timeless... it's a simple love song about someone literally meaning everything to you. You breathe for them, they are your hope in life. The concept is beautiful. I always loved watching them perform this live because there's a passion that they added to it once they started performing it in the past 3-4 years. This version captures the vocal qualities and the haunting sound while polishing them for the record. I wish they could release this as a single and have it be well-received, because this song alone could gain them so many fans if people really listened to it. The line "You still my heart and you take my breath away" brings tears to my eyes, every single time.

Overall, I give the album a solid A- and that is only for a few tracks that didn't wow me. Even so, it's been on constant spin since Friday. And I do mean constant.

But this album is fantastic and I think that if you're a Lifehouse fan, it's a must-have. If you're new to the band and want to get into a talented pop-rock band, this is the album for you.


  1. I agree In Your Skin sounds a little like "Quasimodo" ......but I like it. Listen to the words......
    can't critique the CD like you have, (good job by the way)...I just like the music and all the differnces and a CD that grows on me is more worthwhile then one that's boring after the first opinion.
    I really like this CD ALOT

  2. And you have got to invest in some headphones.........Everything is even more