The latest Lifehouse album, Smoke & Mirrors, is the band’s most recent addition to their impressive collection of soulful rock statements. After making guitarist Ben Carey an official member of the band even though he had been touring with the group since 2004, Lifehouse once again presents a balanced, alternative pop/rock album with new inspired guitar riffs and driving vocal performances.
Smoke & Mirrors, Lifehouse’s fifth album, is most reminiscent of the band’s fourth album, Who We Are, which was released in 2007. Both albums have taken the band in a slightly different direction from the first three albums, but Lifehouse’s trademark sound can still be found throughout both albums.
The first single from Smoke & Mirrors, “Halfway Gone,” has a similar up-tempo rock feel to it as “First Time,” the first single from Who We Are. This new catchy pop/rock tune was a collaborative effort with rapper/songwriter Kevin Rudolf. The single has already become the fastest growing single in the band’s history, according to the band’s Web site.
Perhaps one of the best songs on the album is “Wrecking Ball,” which is performed by bassist Bryce Soderberg. This is Soderberg’s first lead vocal performance on a Lifehouse album, and “Wrecking Ball” is the first Lifehouse track that does not feature lead singer Jason Wade as the lead vocalist.
“Nerve Damage,” the second track on the album, follows in the footsteps of “The Joke” from Who We Are in that it is very different musically from the rest of the band’s music. Both songs are very edgy and a bit desperate, pushing the limit with every measure.
The album lacks emotional and vulnerable songs like “Storm” and “Everything” from Who We Are and No Name Face, respectively. However, two of the lighter rock songs on the album, “Had Enough” and “It Is What It Is,” could have similar success as “Whatever it Takes” and “Broken” from Who We Are because both songs have the potential to become instant pop/rock radio hits. “Had Enough,” which was co-written with Daughtry, has subtle vocal hints of Daughtry throughout the song. Lifehouse is currently promoting Smoke & Mirrors on tour with Daughtry.
The album is available in two formats, a regular version and a deluxe version with exclusive photos and videos and five extra tracks including a live studio version of “Everything” from No Name Face, which is arguably the band’s best song to date. That being said, the live studio version does not have a live feel to it and is far inferior to the regular version. The deluxe version may not be worth the extra few dollars because four out of five bonus tracks are mediocre at best. “Crash and Burn,” only available on the deluxe version, is a fantastic song, though. Also, the deluxe version includes a video guitar lesson by Wade and Soderberg that instructs fans on how to play “Halfway Gone.” Rock/alternative rock fans will be more than satisfied with the regular version, but true Lifehouse fans may want to go for the deluxe.
Both versions of the album feature “From Where You Are,” a previously released song that was written specifically for Allstate’s Teen Driving Program in 2007 but was never included on an album.
Smoke & Mirrors certainly represents Lifehouse’s continued growth and talent and is sure to be successful both on Billboard charts and with music fans all over the world.