Courtesy of DreamWorks

July 5, 2024

TEST SPINS | Lifehouse: ‘No Name Face’

Print More

“Hanging By A Moment” by alternative rock band Lifehouse has always been a summer staple for me. When it popped back up in my musical rotation this season, it hit me: while I’ve listened to Lifehouse before, I’ve never actually listened to any of the other songs that accompany “Hanging By A Moment” on the album, No Name Face (2000). This was both the impetus for this review and my new column, “Test Spins,” where I will review older albums ranging from the classic to the obscure. I’ll admit, I am somewhat of a Lifehouse novice — my knowledge of the band is mostly limited to their 2005 namesake album and the aforementioned “Hanging By A Moment” — so I was interested to hear No Name Face in full. It did not let me down.

“Hanging By A Moment” is the first song on the record and was Lifehouse’s first hit, thrusting them into the spotlight. What first drew me to this song was the deep tone of Jason Wade’s voice and the catchy chorus. The song as a whole embodies early 2000s alternative rock in the best way — it’s the perfect amount of grunge rock with just a touch of pop.

Next is “Sick Cycle Carousel,” which starts out slow and continues to pick up as the song progresses. Lyrically, this song is a bit more introspective and self-deprecating than “Hanging By A Moment” and together, the songs set the stage for the remainder of the album, which oscillates thematically between relationship musings and self-reflection. “Unknown” impressed me at the beginning with its funky, country-like intro, but the lyrical content is largely recycled from “Hanging By A Moment” and it pales in comparison overall. However, the bridge struck me as particularly eloquent, and seems to articulate how the two themes of the album tie in with one another; “I’m against myself again / Trying to fit these pieces in / Walking on a cloud of dust to get to you” Wade sings, speaking to the way the individual and the relationship converge.

“Unknown” is followed by “Somebody Else’s Song,” which sounds like it would be the love child of Santana and Nirvana … and it really works. It’s funky, it’s grungy and it’s fun, despite being about feeling like you’re living someone else’s life — decidedly not a fun topic. “Trying” helps round out the album by providing it with a softer dimension. Focused on navigating the challenges of life, this song reminds us that behind Lifehouse are real people who aren’t too different from us. Nowhere is this more clear than when Wade sings “If I quote all the lines off the top of my head / Would you believe that I fully understand all these things I’ve read”: a reminder that we all just pretend to know what we’re doing from time to time.

“Only One” is about the remnants of a relationship, and although the chorus is relatively simple and doesn’t do much for me lyrically, it’s definitely catchy, and the scatting bridge and guitar solo make it worth the listen. “Simon” is more layered than its predecessor. According to Genius, this song is based on the experience of a friend of Wade’s who was bullied in school. He relates to his friend during the chorus, which is laid over rich instrumentals. “Cling and Clatter” was a bit disappointing — I found the instrumentals in the intro almost annoying, and they reappear throughout the song. Nevertheless, I did like the chorus, which seemed like something from The Wallflowers’ 1996 album Bringing Down the Horse.

“Breathing” is a John Mayer-esque acoustic return to softness — the song to sway your phone flashlight to at the concert, so to speak. It’s another example of Wade’s desire to exist in the moment. “Quasimodo” is an abrupt change from “Breathing” and a necessary component of the album — it’s an exhibition of harder rock than we get in the rest of the album, and an expert exhibition at that. It’s angry and it’s perfect. “Somewhere In Between” is another softer track about working through a difficult time and a nice foil to “Quasimodo,” especially in combination with “Breathing.” There is a sense of symmetry in these three songs that I thoroughly enjoyed. The finale to the album is “Everything.” Wade’s voice blends seamlessly with the instrumentals, and although he is quieter than he is on the other tracks, it works. The song is slow to start and picks up with the second chorus. It’s an apropos ending to No Name Face as a whole; ”Everything” encapsulates what Lifehouse does best and would eventually become known for following the release of this record … contemplative lyrics and the marriage of soft and hard rock, done in a way that is unique to them.

Test Spins is a weekly throwback column reviewing and recommending classic and underrated albums from the past. It runs every Friday.

Sydney Levinton is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].