Tuesday 21 May 2013

30 Seconds To Mars - Love Lust Faith + Dreams

"I like a cinematic quality to music", claims frontman Jared Leto on the album commentary to 'Love Lust Faith + Dreams'.  It's a sentiment at the heart of their fourth album, a hollow heart that's all style over substance.  From the title alone (that immediately lays out the subject matter) it's clear that they're aiming towards the grandiose, the epic - but instead we're left with the bombastic and the overblown.

Opening track Birth hits a rough start.  It's clearly meant to provide a stirring fanfare to introduce the album, but the synthesised horns are truly awful.  The introduction of strings amongst the guitars is merely a deflating attempt to do a Muse.

Thankfully, things soon pick up with current releases Conquistador and Up In The Air.  As a prog rock band, Leto and co. have always experimented with synthesised instrumentation, but they're undeniably at their best when they stick to pure rock.  Screaming vocals, hooky guitar riffs and driving bass lines meet anthemic choruses for two singles that are equally at home on the radio and live on stadium-sized stages.  That said, they present nothing we haven't heard before.

Elsewhere, this is the band's most synth heavy and mainstream offering to date, often aspiring to M83 levels of epic, such as piano ballad City of Angels or the processed beats of End Of All Days.  The album hits a dramatic peak with the mostly instrumental Pyres of Varanasi, essentially Leto's attempt to replicate Daft Punk's 'Tron' Soundtrack.  Closing track Depuis Le Debut continues the cinematic feel, beginning with a rock ballad before suddenly switching to urgent strings and droning synths, finally finishing with a musicbox rendition of Swan Lake.  It's a bizarre transition of styles.

The result is an album that feels like an overly calculated attempt at a film soundtrack; a record that lacks the soul and humanity the title might suggest, stemming predominantly from the vapid lyrical content and tiresome shouty choruses.  Most of all, this is a rock album lacking in solid rock tracks.  Leto might be a well known actor, but this latest album is proof that his film career has gone to his head to the detriment of the music.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Conquistador
* Up In The Air
* City Of Angels

Listen: 'Love Lust Faith + Dreams' is available now.