If their 2009 release, This Is War, was anthemic, massive and downright epic, 30 Seconds To Mar’s (30STM) newest release, Love Lust Faith + Dreams seems to be a more toned down version of that. That said, the American rock band’s fourth disc is a concept album and so takes a while to get used to.

Split into 4 segments, a female voice can be heard at the beginning of each segment, marking the start and end of each segment. These are Love which starts of the album with “Birth”and “Conquistador”, followed by Lust which is opened by their first single, “Up In The Air” before it moves to “City of Angels”, “The Race” and closed by “End of All Days”. Faith introduces the second half of the album with “Pryes of Varanasi”, moving through “Bright Lights” and “Do or Die”. The album to brought to its conclusion by Dreams with“Convergence”, “Northern Lights” and “Depuis Le Début” (from the beginning in French).

Even before the release of the album, the band was pulling stunts for its promotion, culminating in them sending a physical recording of “Up In The Air” into space on a NASA Falcon rocket for it to dock at the International Space Station, making the single the first commercial piece of music to literally defy gravity.

You wonder, too, if this isn’t also a bid to get closer to fulfilling their name of being 30 Seconds To Mars. However, with the International Space Station being 53 million miles from our neighbouring planet, they’re still some 3,000 to 5,000 hours short – depending on how fast the NASA spacecraft is flying.

Up In The Air”, while catchy and potentially an anthem for fans of 30STM, seems to be written on a formula. The huge choruses of “woahs” is so often used by the band, it’s almost too easy for frontman Leto to write a passable arena rock song. But next to the singalong choruses on songs from their previous albums like “This Is War” and “Closer To The Edge”, “Up In The Air” lacks punch.

The music video of “Up In The Air” seemed to be playing on the theme of their colourful polka-dotted album cover. It features a multitude of different incoherent elements – from lions, to snakes, to zebras, to wolfs and to appearances by burlesque actress Dita Von Teese and model Ashley Smith – making it the 8 and a half minute video feel like an art house movie gone wrong.

“City Of Angels”, about the band’s home ground Los Angeles, is an emotional journey, slowly building up from a slow, spacey start, to end off with Jared Leto belting his heart out with drummer and brother Shannon’s heavy hitting, bringing the song to a mammoth climax. Quite possibly the stand out track of the entire album, its poignant lyrics will resonate with Angelenos (maybe not as much as Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind”did for the New Yorkers) and its dramatic, passionate sound will be something for fans to connect to.

“Lost in the city of Angels, down in the comfort of strangers. I found myself in the fire burnt hills, in the land of a billion lights.”

30STM’s propensity to write colossal choruses, which up till now seemed to be lacking from the album, is finally put on show as we enter the middle part of the Faith section of the record. Almost U2-esque, “Bright Lights” features guitarist Tomo Miličević using delayed guitars and slow keyboard build-ups. Weirdly enough, Leto seems to be singing about cities, again. “Do or Die” starts off with the female voiceover proclaiming the song’s name in Chinese, and with the chorus of woahs finally used to evoke emotion rather than a gimmick to get people to join in, you can imagine sold-out stadiums shouting this back at Leto.

Quite unlike This Is War, which is instantly connectable, Love Lust Faith + Dream appears to distance the ambitious band from its audience. It’s almost as if they tried to sound much larger than they are. While the same can be said of their earlier efforts, they’ve always managed to save themselves with a couple of songs, from the old days of “Capricorn (A Brand New Name)”to the aggressive and huge “A Beautiful Lie”to the titanic chorus of their previous record “This Is War”, genuinely arena rock sounding.

Love Lust Faith + Dreams fell short of that, with the experimentation with the otherworldly sounds on “Pyres of Vanasasi”particularly disappointing, sounding more like movie trailer track, overly dramatic and theatrical, than something fit for a rock album. However, the record does have, just about, enough songs for 30 Seconds to Mars to keep selling out their stadia.


Album Details:

Artist: 30 Seconds To Mars
Album Name: Love Lust Faith + Dreams
Rating: 2.5/5
Language: English
Genre: Alternative Rock
Record Label: Virgin Records/Universal Music
Release Date: May 17, 2013

Track list:

1. Birth
2. Conquistador
3. Up In The Air
4. City of Angels
5. The Race
6. End of All Days
7. Pyres of Vanasasi
8. Bright Lights
9. Do Or Die
10. Convergence
11. Northern Lights
12. Depuis Le Debut