Sound — 4
There is much to compare 30 Seconds To Mars' "Love Lust Faith + Dreams" to Linkin Park's "A Thousand Suns." Both bands are known for a vocalist with an impressive range that switches back and forth between melodic and aggressive and always intense. Both bands have put out albums with those moments with hard hitting guitars that perfectly compliment the intense vocals. Both albums have a message that is lost on this reviewer. And now both bands have put out albums where the guitar has become non-existent. I am unsure why rock bands of today are feeling a need to replace the guitar with keyboards and fake drumbeats. In an effort to improve the song, both of these groups have put out albums where the climax of songs come out flat. Granted, both of these albums manage to pull together a few decent songs and I truly believe that if you put some of these songs live in an arena with the guitar in the mix, they could make for great songs. Unfortunately, "Love Lust Faith + Dreams" is a disappointment in my opinion. Jared Leto claims that 30 Seconds To Mar is an "art project." This is clearly evident in their newest offering but as mentioned above, the art has failed. Co-mingled with this "art" are plenty of oh's and whoa's and other singalong moments that are strategically designed for the large arenas that 30 Seconds To Mars sell out on a nightly basis. While this album will do nothing to impede the quality of their live shows, I am hoping that their next album is more of a return to the group that put out one of the best albums of last decade, "A Beautiful Lie."
Lyrics — 4
Lyrics are uninspired and obtuse at best. While there are plenty of singalong moments (and an overload of "ohs," "ahs," and "whoas" and some repeating of lines), the lyrics do not really say anything. Jared's vocals are solid, per usual, though I do believe the production has made them a little polished and has removed the rawness that has helped defined some of his earlier work. There are a lot of similar moments in each song with Leto singing softly and then building his vocals louder to the point of predictability.
Overall Impression — 4
1. "Birth": An interesting track that leads into a synth heavy album. Although only about two minutes in length, it has some cool moments. It begins with some keyboard and when Jared's vocals come in, I was feeling excited to hear what was coming next. Sadly, I did not know that the keyboard was going to take over this album. 2. "Conquistador": Plenty of "oh's." References to fighting and wars and great background vocals of "We will, we will, we will rise again." There is some guitars in this song but unfortunately they are nothing special. 3. "Up In The Air": More "oh's" and "whoa's" designed for an arena singalong. This is the first single of this album. Again, not to sound like a broken record but hard hitting guitars would have make this an epic song. But the mix of keyboards/synth and fake beats make it stale. Leto's vocals are great as usual. 4. "City Of Angels": The highlight of this album. A slower song for 30 Seconds To Mars but it is one lyrically that I feel is quality. Again, keyboards reign supreme but this time it works. Probably will be a second single. 5. "The Race": This song begins with... Synth. And what again sounds like fake drums. There is a pattern here of similar sounding music and Leto starting quiet as the song builds. This would be more effective with some sort of buildup of intense music but with synths, it cannot reach the apex required to cut you to the core. 6. "End Of All Days": Starts with piano which is a little different than keyboard/synths. Leto's voice is quiet and it builds... Ineffectively with fake drums and keyboards. The chorus is simple enough: "All we need is faith. All we need is faith. Faith is all we need." The message of this song is lost on me. I can't tell if Leto is being ironic as the verses seem to betray the chorus. If that is the point, then it is pretty weak. 7. "Pyres Of Varansi": Worst thing I have heard in awhile. It is a filler track with keyboards and what sounds like an Indian guy caterwauling. It is one that I wanted to skip almost immediately and wish that I did. 8. "Bright Lights": Starts of slow with Leto's vocals. Builds with keyboard/synths with some more "oh's." And then more keyboards and synths. I am starting to wonder if anyone got credited with guitars on this album. 9. "Do Or Die": You'll never guess how this song starts... Synths. And then it is slow with Leto's vocals. And then fake drums come in. And if they are not fake drums here (or anywhere else on this album that I mentioned it) then they sure do sound fake and I apologize. Then the song builds a little with more synth and some "oh's" and "whoa's." It never reaches the climax it deserves. Leto's vocals sound great, though, but cannot save the mediocre song. 10. "Convergence": Another throwaway, filler track. Just keyboards for 2 minutes. Press skip. It adds nothing. 11. "Northern Lights": Fake drums begin this song. It begins slow and Leto's vocals come in. He does a little bit of his screaming which is unfortunately limited on this album. My guess is that it is limited due to the lack of hard hitting intense moments. It is a shame, especially at this point, when the album is near its close. This would be a pretty good song if you added in some guitars to go along with the synths/strings. 12. "Depuis Le Debut": The last song is also close to a throwaway track. It makes an odd conclusion to the lackluster album. In conclusion, I think it is obvious my feeling on this record. The songs in themselves are decent but the constant keyboards/synth and fake drumbeats cause the songs go nowhere. I will say if you were a fan of Linkin Park's "A Thousand Suns," then you will probably enjoy this album. If you are a fan of 30 Seconds To Mars previous output AND a fan of guitars, then you will not enjoy. I still remain hopeful, though, as Linkin Park followed up "A Thousand Suns" with the excellent "Living Things." I can only hope then that 30 Seconds To Mars will do the same.