A lot has changed since Lifehouse's sophomore release Stanley Climbfall graced shelves in 2002. Bassist and original member Sergio Andrade stepped out along with guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme, leaving just the latter's brother Rick on drums to aid frontman Jason Wade. Upon picking up Bryce Soderberg on bass, the rock quartet is once again a trio and has released their third studio record, simply self-titled Lifehouse.
The band's 2000 debut No Name Face was a raw and poetic venture into the realm of alternative rock, yielding the most-played radio song of 2001, "Hanging By a Moment." Stanley Climbfall was a more sonic and aggressive release, offering up more powerful radio-friendly rock cuts like "Take Me Away" and "Spin." With the member changes and time span between projects, a stylistic change in Lifehouse is evident, and quite frankly, expected. From the opener "Come Back Down," it's clear Wade has returned to a more melodic and poetic approach to songwriting. "You And Me," the album's first single, noticeably more mellow and stripped-down than the band's previous singles, is a tender acoustic love ballad. In fact, much of Lifehouse is approached in a similar laid back fashion. While No Name Face had a melancholic overtone with a sense of tragedy, Lifehouse offers much more hope, but handled in a way songwriter and vocalist Wade has made his signature.
Lifehouse is an aptly titled album that possesses a sense of rebirth for Wade and his band. While some of the hooky anthemic compositions of their previous effort are somewhat missed here, Lifehouse is a thinking-man's alt rock album, bearing the kind of sensitivity that permeated the band's debut. Some may even look at the album as a step back for the band, but instead, Lifehouse is merely a step in a different direction.- Review date: 3/22/05, written by John DiBiase
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