Smoke and mirrors refers to some degree of trickery, but illusion is an instinct alien to Lifehouse, the most literal minded of all new-millennium post-grungers. Lifehouse always underscores their emotions, even when it’s not necessary -- and given that they rarely depart from convention, it’s usually not necessary. Smoke & Mirrors, the group’s fifth album, offers no drastic change in direction for the band. By and large, it’s tougher than its predecessor, Who We Are, but the bulk of it is still co-written and produced by that album’s producer, Jude Cole, who manages to coax out more melody from lead singer/songwriter Jason Wade, but not enough for this to be forcefully hooky. At its best, Smoke & Mirrors is ingratiating, its songs working its way into memory due to repeated exposure in malls and bumper music, but never forming anything amounting to an identity. As product, it’s satisfactory -- it fits the contours of modern rock radio of both the active and adult alternative varieties -- but as the songs die out it, the CD fades out like so much smoke.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine