By Sunny King
I have to start out saying that I have liked 30 Seconds to Mars for a while, but I’ve just known their main hits for the most part. Many people may remember their biggest hit, “The Kill” (also known as “Bury Me”, released in 2005), from either the radio or playing it on Guitar Hero. Other popular hits from the band are “This is War” (2009) and “King and Queens” (2009). Other people may recognize the band’s front man, Jared Leto, from Fight Club released in 1999 or 2016’s Joker in Suicide Squad. I had high expectations for the album, “America” by 30 Seconds to Mars, but I cannot say that those were met and I knew that 30 Seconds into each song.
A tiny rant about the cover/title/questionable theme
What does this album represent or mean? This question is normally alluded to or answered by the cover of an album. However, the listener will have to hunt to find the name of this album because it is nowhere on the cover. The album is titled “America” and is found nowhere on the album itself. The cover of the album lists the six top rated sex positions in America but that’s never referenced to in the album, so what’s the point? Is it an attempt to be deep or edgy? If so, it’s a failed attempt. I feel like this represents the album as a whole, since the listener is constantly confused. It is trying to be “deep” or symbolic while just missing the mark, but then other times it’s so shallow in the meaning and still missing the mark. It sets the tone for the album.
2008 or 2018?
The listener is brought back to a time, a place where many of today’s popular artists were starting out, known as the early 2000’s with this album. This album sounds very much like their older records and other related songs produced in that time. Depending on who the listener is this could be a good or a bad thing. For this reviewer, I feel as if a lot of these sounds have already been done and produced. These chord progressions have been heard over and over again, it is nothing new.
The main themes of this album relate to war, peace, love, money, political division, recovering from difficult issues, and struggling. These are common themes in their past music as well; for instance, “This is War” is obviously about war and the struggles of it. These are common lyrical themes in music as a whole, so it really wasn’t anything new.
There’s good, there’s bad, but not too much ugly.
There was some good in this album. The best song on the entire album is definitely “Great Wide Open” hands down. It showcases Jared Leto’s smooth, almost heavenly, voice with no auto-tune effect; it’s almost as if they should have done the entire album that way. (Looking at you, “Dawn Will Rise”.) The background was filled with great supporting chords. The background was simple, adventurous sounding, and was melodically pleasing. I could see how this might be the only song on the album that might save it and be continuously listened to.
The second song that could potentially be listed as great is “Love is Madness” featuring Halsey. I think that Leto and Halsey together make a great musical pair. It was one of those songs that did not flow one after the other on this album, which is a very good thing. I was hoping the same for A$AP Rocky’s feature, but it just fell short. A complaint the listener could have about “Love is Madness” is the random pauses of instrumentals that are supposed to showcase vocals. It just did not have the intended effect.
The bad part about this album is that it flows together, one song after another. Each song sounds the same. Not many songs stand out, are unique, or showcase anything special. The album as a whole has a very mainstream sound to it. The listener will most likely be able to pair songs, some that have been out for years, as sounding the same to ones on this album. That’s disappointing for a band with great potential. However, with songs like “Remedy” and “Walk on Water” on the same album, it also feels like the musicians are struggling to find what their sound is; yet at the same time all the chord progressions are the same. This just causes confusion for the listener.
Then there’s the ugly. Using the song “Dawn Will Rise” as an example, the use of occasional auto-tune on Leto’s voice is atrocious. His voice is great and didn’t need to be damaged by the “sound/vibe” of the song. This song is basically experimentation with new sound gone wrong. Songs like this are basically what ruins years of hard work for a good band, which 30 Seconds to Mars is.
Recommended If You Like:
1.) Linkin Park
3.) Three Days Grace
1.) “Great Wide Open”
2.)”Love is Madness”
3.) “Rescue Me”
Featured image from YouTube
Overall, the album was not completely bad, just very mainstream sounding. If the listener is a die-hard fan, especially of their early 2000’s music, they may really enjoy some of these songs such as “Walk on Water” or “Rescue Me”. Though these songs sound like a reminiscent mainstream evolution of that, basically it as if they took the foundation of the songs, kept it, and changed the words. Great songs that stand out on this album are “Great Wide Open” and “Love is Madness” featuring Halsey. These represent either Leto’s strong vocal talents, strong features, or great instrumentals.