Who We Are
I liked Lifehouse. I remember their first hits. Then something weird happened, and they gave up quality for Jesus. Somehow, I never understood that to be part of the package, but hey, Iâ€™m Anglican.
The consuming motif of this album is the word â€œinsideâ€ and other, similar navel-gazing terms, which give the album an illusion of introspection. The record is also rife with pseudo-spiritualism. And cringe-worthy simalcrums of poetry (for example, a line about a â€œbroken heart thatâ€™s still beatingâ€). Many grand poems have been created with some of these words, but I would sacrifice them all to eternally expunge that prepositional phrase from the English language.
The unfortunately-titled â€œFirst Time,â€ is an exercise in sad irony: despite the pretense of its name itâ€™s nothing special, and certainly not the first time that chord progression has appeared on a Christian album. In fact, the opening guitar doesnâ€™t just recall one previously-released lackluster CCM track, it recalls all of them. Plato once said (in many more words) that people can get so used to pain that it becomes normalâ€”so much so that when they experience the lack of pain, they interpret it as pleasure. On this record, Lifehouse may be tolerable, but they are still only to Christian music what the lack of pain is to agony.
If the semi-suicidal song, â€œThe Joke,â€ was intended to convey more than generic pubescent melodrama, it fails: â€œIâ€™m ending all this pain / When you find me in the morning / Hanging on a warning (Oh) / The Joke is on you.â€ If it were about God, then it might make a little more sense; as it stands, without even the obligatory references to deity, it is little more than a silly song at best and a destructive dirge at worst. Oh, and guys? You already did the whole â€œhanging on a…â€ theme before.
The Jesus-is-my-girlfriend-ness of â€œMake Me Overâ€ is slightly unnerving. As Iâ€™m listening to what seems like a benign song about a petty crush, heâ€™s suddenly asking this person to â€œPull me in, take me out, make me over.â€ Not only that, but the verse before, he said this person was inside him. Iâ€™m sorry, but yes, Iâ€™ll say it: when Christian songs avoid being explicitly spiritual, theyâ€™re often more explicitly sexual.
â€œAs Iâ€™m listening to what seems like a benign song about a petty crush, heâ€™s suddenly asking this person to â€˜pull me in, take me out, make me over.â€™ Not only that, but the verse before, he said this person was inside him. Iâ€™m sorry, but yes, Iâ€™ll say it: when Christian songs avoid being explicitly spiritual, theyâ€™re often more explicitly sexual.â€
Itâ€™s unfortunate when songs go on repeating themselves, but infinitely more unfortunate when a poorly-typed lyric websiteâ€”one of those that are usually compiled by rabid fans, no lessâ€”sums up several minutes of â€œMesmerizedâ€ with the simple phrase â€œthen mostly repeats.â€ How droll. Thankfully, â€œBridgesâ€ showed some promise, except for the (intentional or otherwise) London Bridge reference: â€œWe both lit a match and watched our bridges go down.â€ This should have died before Fergie touched it, and certainly after. I mean, after all the endearing press sheâ€™s gotten for her solo work, you think Lifehouse could avoid the faux pas of the Black Eyed Peas silicon sensation.
*The CCM Patrol* has long been an advocate of letting the comedy write itself, and sure enough, Lifehouse is dutifully doing our job by titling a track â€œStorm.â€ Such a worn-out image is understandably difficult to pull off well, but Lifehouse doesnâ€™t even try: the lyrics are, quite literally, nothing but clichÃ©s. I couldnâ€™t have done a better job cramming that many repeats and banalities into one track.
â€œLearn You Inside Outâ€ is virtually identical to John Lennonâ€™s piano line in â€œImagine,â€ and is one of the albums better moments (ironically, the one where Lifehouse sounds least like Lifehouse). Wadeâ€™s vocals actually show some variety, decently experimentating with his falsetto. It sounds good, but, honestly, the words donâ€™t really make much sense. At least the main line â€œI wanna love you inside outâ€ is fairly coherent, if simplistic. But itâ€™s marred with more instances of â€œinsideâ€ (egregious ones, too, like in the chorus and the title) and Iâ€™m still not sure how the hell gravity can â€œdrown.â€
Since Lifehouse seems to find ad-nauseum repetition an effective rhetorical device, I might as well oblige them: once again, the word â€œinsideâ€ is used quite a lot on this album. In fact, it is used about 25 times if you donâ€™t count repeating the chorus all those extra times at the ends of a song. Lifehouse, why hast thou forsaken me?
Stewart Lundy is a senior writer for Patrol.
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