Sound — 9
After a disappointing sophomore slump Lifehouse is back with a new record and a renewed face. The album is called the way you would rather call your first record, not the third one. Self-titling it, Lifehouse are claming the rebirth of the band -? since bassist Sergio Andrade and guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme (what a last name) left a year ago, Bryce Soderberg joined Jason Wade and Rick Woolstenhulme on bass, the last album and a new record label has been pretty much the question of survival for Lifehouse. While their previous releases were most of the time compared to Creed, the band's new producer John Alagia (John Mayer, Dave Matthews) left those opinions far behind. It was also the replacement of half of the cast that influence the style -- "Lifehouse" carries much more hope, than the band's previous releases, but still has a lot of melancholic overtones. The album sounds like some of the Beatles' psychogenic records -? simply arranged guitar rock with backing string section, piano, rock drums and lots of strong guitar hooks. The album was recorded in a beautiful landscape in between green hills and Chesapeak Bay in Maryland. The poetic surrounding may be the reason why Wade's melodic way of songwriting is very evident here -? you can feel it not only in vocals, but in all instrument parts as well. "Lifehouse" is full of romantic melodies that seem to come out of songwriter's heart. Ballads are what Lifehouse are really good in and 80% of the album are emo-sweet ballads. The most cheerful song here is "Chapter One" with a happy piano line. It was written by Wade on piano, while everything else was created with acoustic guitar, and it differs from all other material. "You And Me," the album's first single is a tender love-ballad, a perfect soundtrack for a wedding. Acoustic guitar and strings make the song sound sincere.
Lyrics — 8
Heartfelt lyrics is what differs the band from the others and make the songs crawl into your heart and find a place there. It's great to realize some musicians still find inspiration in something else apart endless love. Even though most of songs on "Lifehouse" are on that neverending topic, there are exceptions -? like "Better Luck Next Time" is dedicated to Wade's father due to their difficult relationship and "The End Has Only Begun" is a song about finding a life path. Wade has rather limited vocal abilities, but it's obvious he's made some effort to sound good -? you can hear him switching easily from soft growling to falsetto. He's doing that in less pretentious manner, than most rock-singers and it sounds very organic with the music.
Overall Impression — 9
The guys' got an ear for little things that make a record still sound good after the fifth listen and maybe even become classic. There are no strong radio hits on the record, there's nothing tacky that would grab your attention at once. Instead each song has some kind of hidden beauty, not oriented on casual listener. The record is well-produced ?- it sounds solid and harmonic. It's obvious everything is very thought-out -- the guys made sure everything is in the right place and sounds smooth before putting songs on the album (like "Days Go By" was recorded four times before the final version). With their last album Lifehouse proved all those problems that they've had lately only helped them to reinvent themselves and go out with an excellent record.