Release Date: May 21, 2013
Record label: Virgin
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Hard Rock, Emo-Pop, Neo-Prog
Elevated to the position of international stars -- if not quite globe-conquering superstars -- with their 2009 album This Is War, 30 Seconds to Mars do the smart thing for their 2013 sequel, Love Lust Faith + Dreams. They retain War co-producer Steve Lillywhite -- here co-producing with the band's lead singer/songwriter Jared Leto -- and give themselves a sleek, stylish makeover, accentuating the creeping escalation of electronics heard on This Is War and otherwise shedding whatever churning new millennial angst that lingered on the third record while retaining their emo angst and love of prog. Often, the pounding, splattering analog synthesizers bring to mind the otherworldly, trapped-in-amber futurism of the '70s -- the instrumental march "Pyres of Varanasi" expertly evokes the unsettling vistas of Wendy Carlos' soundtrack for A Clockwork Orange -- but this isn't a retro record, it's galvanized for the present, pushing its thick processed guitars, chanted choruses, and clanging keyboards to the forefront, flirting with taboos underneath its shining surface.
Alternative rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars return with their fourth studio album and first album in four years, Love Lust Faith + Dreams, following 2009’s This Is War. Conceptual and ambitious, Love Lust Faith + Dreams has its finer moments as well as moments that are overwrought, overextended, and overproduced. The best material graces the front of the album while the middle and back-half are less triumphant.
Jared Leto can't save you. Let's get that out of the way immediately. He can't save you any more than he can bring about world peace, turn water into wine or part the Red Sea. And whilst his rockstar messiah posturing is nothing new (although his philanthropy and support for gay rights in America is admirable), 30 Seconds To Mars' endless lyrical platitudes and 'you-are-not-fans-you-are-family' sloganeering can grate.
As you would expect for a band led by a film star, 30 Seconds To Mars are not a band to do things by halves when it comes to promoting themselves. As such, it was not particularly surprising to hear that they were premiering the first single from their fourth album by literally sending it into space. While it paved the way for numerous bad puns, it’s hard not to admire Jared Leto and co’s imagination and ambition.
If Derek Zoolander made a record it would sound like Thirty Seconds to Mars: stadium rock so vapid and bombastic that if frontman Jared Leto were pulling off some kind of long-duration joke (this, inexplicably, is the band's fourth studio album: the previous two have both gone platinum) it would be genius. Sadly, though, this is humourless. When Leto rawk-emotes: "I'm 17 and looking for a fight", the generations weaned on My So-Called Life will see only teenage Jordan Catalano, a reminder that Frozen Embryos, the series's high-school band, had more going for them.
With 2009’s This Is War, 30 Seconds To Mars released their finest work, a towering, anthemic album on a vast scale, and it was well suited to the larger venues they made the jump to. It would have been hard for anyone to make a record bigger than that, and with Love Lust Faith + Dreams they appear to have instead pulled back and made something that is a little more compact and intimate. This does not mean they have gone lo-fi, and they maintain their signature sound throughout.