Thirty Seconds to Mars fall victim to their ego on “America”

Alex Toth

Jared Leto & Co. have always been trend-hoppers. From the emo-tinged alternative of 2005’s “A Beautiful Lie” to their artsy electro-rock venture “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams” in 2013, the band has consistently performed in line with the latest radio craze.

And for four albums, it worked. It’s a testament to Leto’s songwriting abilities that he’s been able to make such unoriginal music sound so good for so long. Unfortunately, on “America,” it sounds like he’s not even trying anymore. In fact, the entire band’s talent has regressed to a level that I would’ve never thought possible back in 2009, when they released their behemoth concept album “This Is War.” Where that record was a fiery explosion of passion fueled by a hellish lawsuit with their record label and (literally) backed by the voices of 1,000 fans, “America” is derivative and vapid, devoid of any creative spark the band may have had in the past.

The only things that remain from the band’s previous albums are their absolute worst traits. The incessant “woah oh oh’s” in every chorus have returned yet again, as have Leto’s cringe-inducing attempts at eroticism with raspy, whispered vocals. Pseudo-deep lyrics regarding themes of love, sex, religion, politics and war have also found their way back into a Mars album, to no one’s surprise. Meanwhile, Shannon Leto’s drums and Tomo Milicevic’s guitars have been banished almost entirely, replaced by simple electronic booms and lifeless synth compositions. Nearly every song on the record is centered around a mildly catchy chorus, followed by a slickly produced electronic break, ad infinitum until the next song begins. By track 4, it’s a snoozefest; by track 10, it’s unbearable.

To make matters worse, the music isn’t even this album’s greatest flaw. That honor goes to its marketing. Don’t get me wrong, Thirty Seconds to Mars (and Jared Leto especially) have always reeked of pretentiousness, but never have they attempted something so painfully self-important. You’d think that naming an album “America” would mean it has something to do with… well… America. And Leto himself has said as much.

The band’s social media has referred to it as, “a creative journey through the lyrics and stories of Thirty Seconds to Mars and a hard look at some of the issues America faces. It’s a call to action for Americans to look up from their phones, take notice, and get involved. This album and museum is as experiential as it is lyrical. It comes with a message that is loud and clear.”

If that’s the message that this trite, soulless collection of songs is supposed to convey, then I’m not hearing it. And don’t even get me started on the awful “lists” that plague the album’s various covers. Sorry Jared, but I don’t think any of your fans care to see America’s six most popular sex positions plastered on a mustard yellow background on the front of your new album.

Long story short, “America” is not good. It’s an album that feels like nothing more than an exercise in narcissistic futility, an effort to see just how big they can get. Please people, do the world a favor, and don’t let it be successful.

Sails: 1/5



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