Lifehouse started in 1996 as the band Blyss. This was while they were in high school and by 1998, the recorded a bunch of Demos. In 2000, the band went back and re-recorded 12 of the 15 original demos and those demos became their debut album, ‘No Name Face’. Apparently, they decided to change the band name for this release to Lifehouse because the songs were about lead singer, Jason Wade’s life and other people’s life. The name was believed to be a good fit to encompass all that.
The band would go on to release 7 studio albums between 2000 and 2015. They have had their ups and downs as a band, they have had hits, been popular and not so popular and have taken the typical roller coaster of success. I have followed the band from the debut album all the way to today and still one of my favorites even if I haven’t liked everything they have done. But there is more that I like than I don’t like and that is what matters.
I am going to go through all 7 albums and tell you what I like and don’t like about each as well as rank them from the Worst album to their #1 album in my book. If you are not familiar with them, I hope this will spark an interest and you will give them a try.
WORST – STANLEY CLIMBFALL (2002)
After the success of the band’s debut, their sophomore release was a rather big disappointment for me. It wasn’t all bad as there were some great songs such as “Spin”, “Wash” and “Take Me Away”. Heck, the album sold 2 million copies so people liked it. It was a heavier rock sound then the first album and normally that is a good thing for me.
So what was my problem with this album? The vocals. Before I get into that, know I love Jason Wade’s vocals. That is actually the draw for me with this band. It is the enunciation of the words on this album that bother me. I can’t understand what he is singing most of the time. It feels like he is mumbling the words. Either that or my ears are wobbling during this album and not the others. It was a distraction and made me not listen to this that much. Still today, it is the one I come back to the least.
#6 – LIFEHOUSE (2005)
For the band’s third album, they started to back away from their more post-grunge rock sound and stated to become more radio friendly and still had another successful album which sold 3-4 million copies around the world. The reason for the low rating is like the previous album, Jason still mumbled too much in his singing approach. Now, it was better than the last album, but still occurred.
However, this album had some songs I liked more than the last album such as “Days Go By”, “Blind” and “Undone”. There was one song I thought was head & shoulders above everything else which was “You and Me” which was a ballad. And the ballad was something these guys could do and do well. One other cool thing is this album was the start of a great relationship with producer, singer, songwriter Jude Cole (whose solo work is Amazing!!).
#5 – WHO WE ARE (2007)
From here on in, the complaints are minimal, if any. This album is what I love about the band. Jason’s vocals, the catchy tunes, the overall tone and sonics of the band are that pure Lifehouse sound. And each of the remaining albums on the list do it just a little bit better each time.
This one has the great title track with it’s pounding drums and a little edgier sound. Plus you got to have ballads and this one delivers with “Broken”. There are some deep cuts that are some of my favorite including “If This Is Goodbye” (an iTunes exclusive) and the opening track “Disarray”. Are the more good songs? Yes, “Whatever It Takes” and “The Joke” with a good little guitar riff. Just a solid album.
#4 – OUT OF THE WASTELAND (2015)
The band’s most recent album gets even better with each listen. Depending on my mood, this could easily be #3 so understand that these next two are equally as good in my book. This one has both rockers and ballads and I feel Jason’s songwriting keeps improving with each release. After a brief hiatus after their 2012 album, Jason had been writing so many songs and some songs that came out of him felt so much like Lifehouse songs that he called the guys and the band got back together to complete this collection.
There are so many great songs, but “Flight” might be the pinnacle song of this release. A slower song that keeps building with passion and intensity. One of the best he has written. But that song had so many other great companion pieces including “Runaway”, “Yesterday’s Son”, “Stardust”, “One for the Pain”, “Firing Squad”, “Hurt This Way”….hell I could go on, but you get the point.
#3 – ALMERIA (2012)
When this album came out, it was not received well by critics and fans for some strange and very odd reason. I love this album. For me, it was such a different album from anything they had done. It is their most experimental and I actually found it refreshing. It actually had two songs with guest vocalists. The first, which is one of my favorite songs of theirs ever, is “Between the Raindrops” with Natasha Bedingfield. The second was more of a country rocker with the great Peter Frampton and Charles Jones (some great guitar work as well).
Another standout track was “Only You’re the One”. I can’t describe this one but it blew me away. I guess it is a ballad with an explosive chorus. There were some typical Lifehouse songs such as “Gotta Be Tonight” and “Nobody Listen” that let you know they are still Lifehouse. There were more slower songs on this album as well which might be what put people off, but it was just beautiful and I think people missed out.
#2 – NO NAME FACE (2000)
The debut album was immediately noticed by critics and music lovers as the album sold over 4 million copies worldwide and produced the band’s first hit “Hanging by a Moment”. They were labeled as post-grunge and also I remember hearing they were a Christian band, but never really saw it. The record company had high hopes for the band as they had the legendary producer Brendan O’Brien actually mix the album (I guess they couldn’t afford him to produce). My family connection is that my brother in law was working with Brendan at the time and helped out on this album (no name credit at this time though).
Now, the album didn’t have as many songs as I loved as some of the other albums, but this is the debut, the start, a crucial album in their catalog. It was the start of it all for me and so holds a much deeper place in my heart than most of the others. You still had some great songs such as “Sick Cycle Carousel”, “Unknown”, “Cling and Clatter”, “Breathing” and most especially “Everything” which ends the album. So damn good.
#1 – SMOKE & MIRRORS (2010)
This album is my #1 and by a long shot. Every band has an album that just is their pinnacle, their best work, the album that just stands out amongst the rest and this album was that for me. The band had faded a little by this time and they needed to do something to get people listening and they did a video for the first single, “Halfway Gone”, that was cutting edge and original which got people watching.
But that song was no where near the best song on the album. That goes to “Wrecking Ball” which was actually sung by someone other than Jason Wade. It was sung by bassists Bryce Soderberg. But that isn’t it all, you have “All In”, “Nerve Damage”, “Had Enough” and “Smoke & Mirrors”. If that isn’t enough, there are a few more songs that I can’t get enough of and are some of their best as well in both performance and songwriting. They are “It Is What It Is”, “Falling In” and “From Where You Are”. The whole album was pretty damn close to perfect. The deluxe version is worth getting as well.
And there you have it, the Lifehouse albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same band and that is all that matters really.