Thirty Seconds To Mars‘ follow-up to their 2009 effort ‘This Is War’ is inevitably a more elaborate project. Front man Jared Leto takes the production reins alongside the group’s longtime producer Steve Lillywhite bringing a marked sense of variety and experimentation along with him. ‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’ offers the Los Angeles group an opportunity to explore the outer boundaries of rock while drawing inspiration from electronic music – it’s by no means ground breaking but feels fresh nonetheless.
The album opens with the long-winded intro to Birth. An unexpected, and orchestral sound, it bears resemblance to prog-rockers Muse. Naming your opening track as ‘Birth‘ isn’t as clever as the band probably think, but in terms of creating a statement of intent, this piece certainly does the job. Beginning with a brooding brass section, it develops with a cinematic feel before reaching a bombastic climax of guitars that could soundtrack Armageddon. While Conquistador is a robust show-off alternative style tune, with riffs resembling Kasabian’s Shoot the Runner.
Up In the Air, a pulsating, synth-driven track bearing a popular dance-rock vibe, is the first airing of a potential single. City Of Angels finds the trio in a less aggressive mood as they move toward U2-style stadium soft rock; Leto’s gentler vocal delivery is particularly beneficial to the song overall. The Race passes by without much notice, until a dark mêlée rounds the song off triumphantly.
2005 album ‘A Beautiful Lie’, saw the group earn mainstream success and introduced to the world of stadia concerts. With Leto at the prime of his acting career, it was inevitable the band would appear to be an ego project, and many did not predict a third album, never mind a fourth. But Leto, has made a solid attempt at developing himself and the band ever since.
‘Love Lust Faith + Dreams’ is quite eclectic with a large variety styles on display, but Pyres Of Varanasi is the pick of the bunch on the second half of the album; it’s an experimental, anxiety building, middle eastern infused goliath. Bright Lights is clearly written as a radio single and while it ticks the boxes, it appears a little too unlike the band. The same goes for Do Or Die, which is little more than filler.
For their fans, or the Echelon as they’re affectionately referred to, this is album will be openly embraced. And for those who don’t consider themselves fanatical, on balance it becomes difficult to find anything beyond a superficial enjoyment, hindering a relatively good rock record from becoming a great one.