Lifehouse: Almeria (Geffen)
"There's a kind of spaghetti Western undercurrent," the Lifehouse frontman Jason Wade has claimed of his band's sixth album, Almeria. It may be named for the Andalusian locale where Sergio Leone shot A Fistful of Dollars but a vibrancy on a par with an Ennio Morricone score is not forthcoming. Though Wade's smooth, capable voice is easy on the ear and Lifehouse have traded the angsty elements of earlier outings for a mature-sounding strain of Americana with light electronica flourishes, much of Almeria sounds a little too airbrushed. The song Barricade, for example, has some sweetly twanging electric guitars and deft pedal steel but ultimately it sounds constrained, fearful of expressing any real emotion. Only You're The One and Between the Raindrops, a duet with the UK-raised pop singer Natasha Bedingfield, are better; both songs dress their anthemic choruses in dreamy, wee small hours production tics but even they seem somewhat nipped and tucked. It's left to another guest - the 1970s rocker Peter Frampton, playing guitar on Right Back Home - to show the worth of some grit.