October 29, 2002
EVERMIND:Kurt Cobain Meets Jesus Christ: The Lifehouse package. (Mark Joseph, October 25, 2002, National Review)
It's an open secret that mainstream rock is now flooded with devout Christians. From Lenny Kravitz (who sports a tattoo that declares "My Heart Belongs To Jesus Christ") to rap-rockers P.O.D. to the crowd-pleasing Creed — as well as a new generation of artists like Sixpence None the Richer, Dashboard Confessional, Nickel Creek, Blindside, Chevelle, and Pedro the Lion — young and devout Christians who once had politely confined themselves to the Christian rock industry have now joined the cultural mainstream. (When Lifehouse's "Hanging On A Moment" became 2001's hottest single, most fans probably didn't realize they were listening to a song that had first been played at the Malibu Vineyard.)
Wade is not from Seattle, but it's impossible to listen to the band's sophomore record, Stanley Climbfall, and not think of the enormous cultural impact Kurt Cobain has had. Cobain died when Wade was in his early teens; nevertheless, musically anyway, he is Cobain-haunted. Which is a nice counter-balance — since, lyrically, he is clearly Christ-haunted. One could do worse than to have one's music described as a cross between Jesus Christ and Kurt Cobain.
Wade's voice is often compared to those of Scott Stapp of Creed or Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. But it is Cobain that truly informs his music. The growl is unmistakably Cobain, and so are the flashes of rage, which seem to leap off the record. Both certainly had things to be angry about. Cobain had had a Ritalin-ridden, rootless childhood, and faced a hopeless future. Wade had to face hypocrisy — in the form of both the divorce of his missionary parents and the reactions of fellow believers to his father's fall from grace.
Still, listening to Stanley Climbfall, one can't help wishing Cobain had tapped into the power Wade has found in his faith in God. That faith is no guarantee that bad things will never happen, of course. But listening to Lifehouse's music, one realizes that, while never fully erasing the pain of life, it nonetheless can help to soothe the wounded and allow them to go on. Yes, Stanley Climbfall is about pain — but it's a pain that has been enveloped in the kind of hope Cobain never found.
Mr. Joseph left out one of my favorites: Ben Harper. Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2002 10:45 AM