Sound — 6
The band originally formed in 1997 by brothers Jared (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Shannon Leto (drums). Currently, since 2007, they are the only original members and the band is completed with lead guitarist Tomo Miličević. The band has had a few lineup changes over the years, always attributed to members leaving due to the touring schedule. The band's sound has changed drastically since their first release, and has been labeled one of several dozen different genres basically everything from emo to nu-metal to progressive metal. Their most diehard fans call themselves "The Echelon" and insist they aren't fans at all but "family." The band is involved in charities and has inspired much of their fan base to be involved in charities as well (which is admirable). Even more admirable, Jared Leto has made a point to keep his acting career and his band separate, refusing to play in venues that try to promote the band by using his name. There are a lot of things the band is doing right, but somehow their latest release still seems to fall a little flat.
"Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams" is the fourth full length studio album released by 30 Seconds To Mars and has a total runtime of just under 45 minutes. The first single from the album is "Up In The Air" which was debuted aboard the international space station on March 18th, being the first commercial release to be sent to space. It was released the next day, on March 19th as an available download on iTunes. The band recorded the choral support vocals via an event called "The Summit" where they invite fans to meet up to provide these vocals. They had used the same practice previously on the album "This Is War." The album is divided into 4 sections named after the words in the album title ("Love," "Lust," "Faith" and "Dreams") and the album was written as a concept album. Now, let me tell you how this album has failed they wrote every song on the album like it is intended to be a stadium ballad. Every song is written with very little substance but instead is full of hooks and big choruses and at the end of the day just sounds gimmicky. On the positive, the mixing and production on the album were nicely done and this could have potentially been an astounding album with more thoughtful songwriting.
Lyrics — 5
Jared Leto really does have an excellent voice, even when supporting sub-par songwriting as on this album. On the band's previous releases Jared's voice has really shined as a raw and soulful voice, but there seems to be a tad more in the way of post-processing completed on this album which makes his voice sound great (from a pop standpoint) but isn't doing him any favors with rock fans. I've read a little bit about Jared Leto getting caught up in some kind of rock 'n' roll messiah god complex, and after hearing this album I'm beginning to wonder. The lyrics from the album tend to range from pop music shallow to just ridiculous. As an example, here are some lyrics from the track "City Of Angels": "There was truth/ There was consequence/ Against you, weak defense/ Then there's me/ I'm seventeen/ looking for a fight/ All my life/ I was never there/ Just a ghost/ Running scared/ here our dreams are made/ the one." Jared Leto doesn't have any kind of leg to stand on singing about being seventeen and looking for a fight it just comes off as ridiculous and cheesy. The other lyrics on the album don't really get much better.
Overall Impression — 6
Before the album "This Is War" I had pretty much discounted 30 Seconds To Mars as radio pop, but when I heard "This Is War" I thought I must have made a mistake it was better than I expected. Then with the release of "Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams" I have to wonder if my original opinion was right after all. None of us can know what happened with the members to bring them to this point, but honestly the music sounds pretentious and shallow in a way that makes me feel seriously negative about the band. I had read recently about Jared Leto working with Kanye West and the band performing covers of some straight pop music in concert and at the time I thought it was "tongue in cheek" or just a fun sideline, but maybe this is the honest direction the band is moving towards.