by Chris McGlynn
Love and lust. Faith and dreams. Although this may sound like the name of a new romantic comedy, it is actually the title of 30 Seconds to Mars’ new album. The fourth studio album, Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams is the band’s first release in four years. It reflects some of the band’s previous music while also adding some new sounds to the group’s repertoire. The group can still be identified by front man Jared Leto’s angry and occasionally raspy voice; however, Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams departs from the band’s usual sound.
Still, the group shows great variety in the album’s tracks. Slow-paced songs such as “End of All Days,” “Bright Lights” and “Northern Lights” contrast with the fast tempo of pieces like “Conquistador” and “Up in the Air.”
30 Seconds to Mars also employs a lot of emphatic group singing. “Conquistador,” for example, embodies this stylistic attribute, imitating the sound of a football locker room.
The band also experiments heavily with new instruments, adding a new electronic blend to it’s typically alternative rock sound. This time, 30 Seconds to Mars branches out and creates the sound of a full symphony orchestra.
For example, “Birth” uses a violin, a synthesizer and a percussion section providing an interesting mix. “The Race” has a unique sound, using electric and bass guitars with a heavy dose of violin and percussion.
In addition to experimenting with new instruments, the band includes a couple of instrumental tracks. Neither “Convergence” nor “Pyres of Varasani” contain lyrics, but instead highlight the new blend of instruments. “Convergence” specifically features various percussion instruments and some light electric guitar.
Interestingly, the album has a precise beginning and ending, with the aptly named tracks of “Birth” as an opening and “Depuis le Début”—since the beginning—as a conclusion.
If there is one blemish on the album, it comes in the form of “End of All Days.” The intended sound is one of sorrow and mourning set to a slow played guitar and piano. Unfortunately, it is instead a major mismatch with Leto’s scratchy voice failing to blend with the acoustic guitar. It did not reflect Leto’s talents and results in a dud.
Overall, 30 Seconds to Mars presents a diverse album that can cater to a whole host of listeners. It varies from songs bound to get listeners pumped up to some that will be used as lullabies. The variety is an interesting take on mixing alternative rock and electronic sounds. Ultimately, the band successfully branched out while not straying too far from their roots of rebellion and anger.