Lifehouse (Dream Works)
With its rumbling guitars and the growling depth charge that is lead singer Jason Wade’s voice, Lifehouse often knocks on the door of Pearl Jam (whose producer, Brendan O’Brien, they employ as a mixer), but they’re too polite to break in. A pretty guitar line or a pep-rally rhythm section always brightens their efforts to be dissolute; Wade is stuck being the Backstreet Boy of grunge.
But this cultured Pearl had enough hooks to make “Hanging by a Moment” radio’s most-played song last year, and they can still deliver an over-heated, lung-belaboring power ballad (such as the title track) with a soupçon of subtlety, a trait that eludes such base-metal bands as Nickelback. There isn’t a lot else Lifehouse can do; an attempt at a Red Hot Chili Peppers-style groove called “Wash” doesn’t.
Bottom Line: Mostly lifeless