Smoke & Mirrors

Studio Album by released in 2010

Smoke & Mirrors review

Lifehouse follow their own way

The Californian punk-rockers Lifehouse are well-known for their steadily released albums always storing a radio hit or two or even three, and also for their reluctance to change anything in their music that has already brought them a massive popularity. Ten years have passed since the release of their debut long player, No Face Name; and the band sounds just like it did in the very beginning. The only changing thing is the quality of performance and arrangements that now adjust the music to the standards of pop-rock, which automatically means a stable growth of the fan-army. Considering these aspects, many were sure that the fifth long player by Lifehouse called Smoke & Mirrors would become a breaking point in the history of the outfit. This work is based on the same punk-rock, albeit dressed and tuned for the format of the leading radio stations. The Californians continue singing about that kind of love that in many cases turns into something we are afraid of and try to stay away from. Therefore, stylistically, Smoke & Mirrors do not cross even within an inch the borders of the territory comfortably occupied by the music of Lifehouse to these days. However, the musicians found the tools to make this record interesting even to those who have been with the band since its early days.

Hits and other good songs

The new CD’s opening track, All In, is a standout thing since it hardly matches the parameters of classic punk-rock album openers. This composition lacks energy and acceleration characteristic of the long record’s first songs. Saving pains in the beginning, the musicians let their emotions out during the explosive chorus. This well-tested approach works perfectly here too. Then comes a song with tempo alterations, Nerve Damage. This is a risky trick that sometimes fails performers, yet this time it works just fine. Soon, the musicians of Lifehouse decide to have some rest and leave solid guitar riffs for the sake of ballad sounding offering a splendid piece under the title It Is What It Is. Generally speaking, these guys have a way with making low-tempo heart-breaking stuff; and the record has a plenty of that. Yet a truly good rock-album must have a striking hit track that would make you dance and prance and go crazy in all possible ways. This mission here is taken up by Wrecking Ball. The verses are surprisingly performed by the bassist, Soderberg, and then comes the knocking-down chorus with a blast of emotions, a real roar, scream and yell making the words just insignificant. The only fault found with this song is that none of the following tracks manages to reach the bar set by this one.

Lifehouse getting better and better

The conquering of the rock-music radio stations by the hits off Smoke & Mirrors is just a matter of time. There certainly would be those who would blame the band for copying the best of the 2007 album, Who We Are, while preparing the present record. But these are either people who hate such music, or people who are infected with envy and already foresee a big commercial success for the new CD by Lifehouse. Sure, one day the audience will be fed up with it and demand something different; but right now this music is a ten-out-of-ten shot. These songs live a short, yet famous life and help their makers live a longer famous life. In a year, only hard-core fans of Lifehouse will be still listening to this CD day in day out, while the majority of the listeners will be focused on other releases. But who said that in a year Lifehouse will not deliver an even stronger album? From release to release, these guys are getting more mature, experienced and wiser. They are learning to make the best out of this music; and there are no reasons to worry about the quality of their next albums.