2. First Time
3. Whatever It Takes
4. Who We Are
6. The Joke
7. Easier To Be
8. Make Me Over
11. Learn You Inside Out
13. I Want You To Know
14. I’ll Keep The Change
15. Signs Of Life
16. If This Is Goodbye
Lifehouse releases its fourth studio album, titled “Who We Are”. The highly anticipated album reaches back to what made Lifehouse special to begin with. A combination of sensitive pop/rock songs and up-tempo rock & roll. And unlike their last effort, the self-titled album, the lyrics seem to delve deeper and sound more inspirational. The album opens with Disarray, which is a raw rock & roll song. It immediately sets the mood of the album. Lifehouse is strong, alive and kicking. The energy in Disarray, with the tight musical composition, topped of with phenomenal lyrics like “it’s a thin line between all the saints and villains – it was crossed in my own mind”, this is Lifehouse at its best.
Next up is the lead single off the CD, First Time. It’s been released to national radio stations and exclusively released as digital download for now, though a video is coming up. This song is very up-tempo and sets exactly the energetic and lovey mood that you’re in when you are completely head over heels. It brings you back to the moment that you fell in love and felt like you could face anything and everything. “I’m feeling alive all over again”. Exactly. Perfect choice for a single, since it is extremely catchy and has the right radio format for both pop and rock radio.
Next up is the Goo Goo Dolls-like Whatever It Takes. The lyrics are very nice, and many people will be able to get into this song. It could be a massive single, maybe even as big as previous hits Hanging by a Moment & You And Me, which both sky-rocketed into stardom. This song could well be the next single, and ensure Lifehouse’s status as one of the elite bands. Whatever It Takes delves into personal feelings, but can also have a spiritual meaning, it’s completely open to interpretation. Even though it’s somewhere in between Goo Goo Dolls’ Stay With Me, The Calling’s Final Answer and Honestly’s I Go On, it doesn’t sound like those songs, it just has the same general feeling. And the only reason I compare it with these 3 great songs, is because Whatever It Takes has the same greatness to it, and maybe even a little more, because of Jason Wade’s amazing vocals on this song. Lifehouse’s singer knows that he doesn’t have the widest vocal range of everyone out there, but he sure knows the one he has and how to use it to the maximum. This is one of the strongest songs on the album.
And the album continues strong, with the title track, Who We Are. This song, another up-tempo song, has a catchy rhythm, that keeps you moving up and down to the beat. Absolutely single material. It actually reminds me a lot of Spin, an earlier single by Lifehouse, which unfortunately didn’t do well on radio, but this song might be more suited for radio, cause the build up is a little different. It has the potential to be big. Like I said before, Lifehouse is back, alive and kicking. The energy and sensitivity on this album remind us of Lifehouse on “No Name Face”, even though the sound of the band has evolved since then.
With Broken, the next song on the album, Lifehouse takes back on the pace a little bit. This anthem is very much like Everything from their first album, when it comes to the feeling of the song. It has the same mysterious thing going on, that slowly draws you in, and once it gets to you, it will not let go of you anymore. You can literally feel the sensitivity in this song. Jason Wade’s voice works as a soothing remedy to your pain, while you get surrounded by the musical part of the song. It slowly fills you up from the inside. “I tried my best to be guarded, I’m an open book instead, I still see your reflection inside my eyes, they’re looking for purpose, they’re still looking for life”. Jason Wade, once again, shows he’s a gifted songwriter.
The next track, The Joke, has a history. The inspiration of this song came from a newspaper article about a 13 year old British boy who was bullied so much that he couldn’t take it anymore and sadly took his own life. The empathy that Lifehouse puts in this song is amazing. And even more impressive is how they managed to combine empathy, with a catchy rock & roll song. Though some people might have some trouble getting into this song, the message that it brings forward is very directly displayed by the music. Even though it’s catchy, I don’t think this should be used as a single. It is too emotionally loaded for that. Musically it makes me think of many things, from Maroon 5 to Oasis, but what it reminds me most of is a mix between The Black Crowes & Lifehouse’s Just Another Name. It doesn’t sound like any of these, but little bits and pieces feel similar to me, not necessarily in the sound, but in the mood of the song.
Then we get Easier To Be, which sounds different. It’s a mix between Britpop & classic pop (in tradition of Tears for Fears/Spandau Ballet). It is by no means a bad song, but it’s not Lifehouse’s sound.
Then there’s Make Me Over, which is a cross between British pop/rock (Keane, etc.) and stuff off Lifehouse’s self-titled CD. This song is alright, but it doesn’t stand out. It could be a neat opener for live sets, cause it does have energy, and it does grow on you, but it is one of the lesser songs on the album.
The next track is the highly anticipated Mesmerized, which at first seems to carry on in the same tradition as the last two tracks, but it is stronger than Easier To Be & Make Me Over. It is not extremely catchy, but it does have something that makes it float through your head. It is the artsy track, like Somebody Else’s Song, My Precious, & Chapter One, on the previous albums. I would be interested in hearing a stripped down, unplugged, acoustic version of this song, where the vocals get more attention, cause I feel if you strip this song from it’s effects and bombastic feeling, it would come out more powerful.
Following Mesmerized is Bridges, which has a lot of energy, and is a very straight-forward rock song. It is a mix between Quasimodo off their debut and Sky Is Falling off their sophomore album “Stanley Climbfall”. It’s not the strongest song on the album, but not the weakest either. This is one of those songs that you either like or don’t like at all.
Learn You Inside Out, is the example that Lifehouse is getting more into piano-driven rock ballads. This song will be a popular request at proms, dances, weddings, etc. And it is unmistakably Lifehouse. For a band that isn’t known as a piano-driven rock ballad kind of band, they pull this of remarkably well. The music completely fits with the sweet lyrics.
The album closer is Storm, a song that originally appeared on the pre-Lifehouse album “Diff’s Lucky Day”. The song sounds quite alike on “Who We Are” as it is still very much stripped down with subtle instrumentals that bring out the accents of the song, including an enchantful and melodic piano line. Also, Jason Wade’s vocals have improved and matured through the years, and that makes this song a real gem. Some fans will be disappointed to get yet another version of this song, but to the general audience, it will be new, and it will be a great song to reach out. This song really shows who Lifehouse is. It shows their roots and where it has brought them. However, compared with the rest of the songs, the sound and tempo of the song are quite different, and one would wonder if it wouldn’t have been a wiser choice to make it a bonus track.
There are several bonus tracks that are mostly digitally released. I Want You To Know, is a piano-based ballad, and it’s kept pretty basic, with a lot of focus on Jason Wade’s extremely strong vocals. It’s one of those songs, when played during a live set with a lot of energetic songs, can suddenly silence the crowd. And even though it might not exactly fit in with the general sound of the album, I Want You To Know is quite a beautiful song. It might not be the most original or creative song, but it is performed excellently and is a nice extra for this strong album.
The Best Buy exclusive download I’ll Keep The Change is one of the better alternative pop songs of the last year. It would do well on a soundtrack, as seems to be the case for most of the bonus songs. It reminds me of The Raconteurs & OK Go at times, but it has that absolute Lifehouse vibe to it. It’s a special track, and a great addition to the Who We Are album.
Signs of Life is a true piano gem. It lasts for over 5 minutes, and has a great build up. Because Wade’s vocals don’t drown out in the sound, they remain their powerful yet fragile sound, while he slowly gets under your skin. Maybe the song lacks a grand finale, like Everything on their debut CD, but the song is very well composed. The lyrics are exactly what you’d expect of Lifehouse. This song would fit in a Disney movie. It really has that animated movie soundtrack thing going on.
If This Is Goodbye, the iTunes exclusive, is a strong song, that reminds me a lot of “Honestly”, as well as older Lifehouse (Today, Fool and most of all Blind). Very very strong song. Could actually be CD single or soundtrack material. I wonder why this didn’t make the album cut.
With “Who We Are”, Lifehouse puts themselves back on the map. With a good mix of strong and energetic rock & roll songs such as Disarray, Who We Are, Bridges & The Joke, as well as some easier songs like Broken, Learn You Inside Out, Mesmerized & Storm, this is a very strong record. There is plenty of radio hit potential with First Time, Who We Are, Whatever It Takes, & Make Me Over. With the right amount of reaching out to fans and media, this could be one of the biggest albums of 2007.