Best Tracks: “Pyres of Varanasi,” “Northern Lights”
30 Seconds to Mars have never been ones to please the critics, with their often corny and awkward pairings of genres, and at most points, their fourth album never strays too far beyond that. Bandleader Jared Leto has always embraced the corniness of his lyrics and the music of his backing band. “Love Lust Faith + Dreams” feels no less cheesy or misguided than their previous efforts.
Lyrically, Leto’s meandering musings on the vague concepts can be summed up in the album’s title. The album is split thematically into four segments, each word in the album’s title. While Leto does stretch deeper and darker than his previous albums, a majority of the metaphors presented here are still largely depthless. The ‘faith’ section in particular is largely void of originality.
Musically, however, I have to applaud 30 Seconds to Mars. For a band that has never been very respected, they do find ways to reinvent themselves. The then-popular pop-emo brand of their second album was quite a different sound than their industrial-based debut. This album is louder, more experimental and electronic based, a sharp change from their vocally loud and musically quiet, unstructured third album “This Is War.” “Love Lust Faith + Dreams” sounds, at points, like a band too heavily inspired by Muse but more inventive. It also, at points, resembles a band that enjoyed the “Inception” soundtrack far more than they should have. But I was actually impressed by the music of this album. The more experimental nature diversified the individual songs more than their previous efforts. The ‘dream’ sequence is musically effective, introduced by “Convergence,” although the whole segment seems to build to a largely unsatisfactory ending.
I would wager to say that this is 30 Seconds to Mars’ best album, but I would not go out of the way to recommend it. Musically strong but lyrically, the band is still flailing in their typically cheesy nature, grasping at large concepts and ideas but rarely hitting the mark with any depth. 30 Seconds to Mars fans will surely love it, and they might even gain some new fans. “Love Lust Faith + Dreams” is not going to down as one of the year’s best, but it is a reasonable listen for general fans of the band.