Lifehouse debuted in 2000 with their smash double platinum-selling album No Name Face. The record served up the most-played radio song of 2001, "Hanging By a Moment." After nearly eighteen months of writing and an apparent goal shift, Lifehouse releases their sophomore effort, the unusually titled Stanley Climbfall.
"Everyone has their ups and downs," states frontman Jason Wade in a recent bio. "And after a lot of wordplay, a song called ‘Stand, Climb, Fall' was transformed into an everyday character named Stanley Climbfall who goes through those kinds of changes." While No Name Face was comprised of often melancholic tracks written out of Wade's frustrations, desires, and hopes, Stanley Climbfall steers in the other direction. "Most of the stuff is not written out of conflict," he continues, "it's really positive." And more positive it is indeed. The Christian and Spiritual elements to Wade's lyrics are more evident here, however, Wade never utters the Creator's name, substituting ambiguous "you"'s instead. But who else could he be referring to with lyrics like that of "Wash" where Wade sings "You wash over me / You wash over me like rain / You wash over me like sunshine..." On the other hand, songs like "Anchor" and "Take Me Away" (among others) could just as well double as love songs. Wade's lyrics often portray a degree of searching, but he tends to just leave the final interpretations up to the listener.
From a musical standpoint, Stanley's sound still has media offering comparisons to that of Pearl Jam and features some pretty hooky, upbeat rock tunes. Wade's vocals are as strong as ever as the album displays more vocal experimentation on his part. While No Name Face was strong lyrically but suffered from a lot of the same old stuff, Stanley tightens the lyrical content and strengthens the musical compositions to a great degree. From the unbelievably infectious chorus of "Take Me Away" to the catchy and engaging sounds of the album's first single, "Spin," Stanley Climbfall proves to be the debut album Lifehouse should have had. While No Name did have the runaway hit "Hanging By a Moment," and the undoubtedly worshipful number, "Everything," to its credit, it just didn't seem to have the substance that Stanley comes closer too.
Definitely not perfect, but a bright step in the right direction, Lifehouse's sophomore project Stanley Climbfall blends hopeful faith-based lyrics with infectious melodies and strong vocal delivery on Wade's part to create a well-rounded follow-up effort.- Review date: 9/15/02, written by John DiBiase
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