Lifehouse

Stanley Climbfall (DreamWorks)

Remember earnest Pennsylvania Dutch Country rockers Live? Jason Wade does, and he's built a career around the memory to prove it. On Stanley Climbfall, Wade's band Lifehouse's second album, he resurrects the idea, once championed by Live in songs with titles like "The Beauty of Gray," that muscular alt-rock can give voice to more than slacker apathy or broken puppy love or pop-culture obscurantism. Naturally, that means Wade's songs are about spiritual starvation and the quest for something real (that old brown shoe of rock rectitude). Sometimes it actually makes for a convincing rejoinder to the lazy indifference on the charts: "Everything in the world was falling through," Wade wails with genuine deep-voiced worry on "Wash," pretty much "Paranoid Android" for dummies, "All I knew was to look to you." More often, though, as on lead single "Spin," the singer's overworked virtue (and his band's insistence on a Creed-styled bombast that never once relents) extinguishes the spark they've got--they run a perfectly manufactured groove into the ground with a minute-long outro of the same vaguely Eastern noodling Alanis Morissette used in "Uninvited" to remind us that she'd been to India and had a nice time. "Pain lies on the riverside," Live once warned; sometimes it helps to just go with the flow.

 
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