Review: 30 Seconds to Mars – America

American hard rock group 30 Seconds to Mars endeavored further into the oft-rewarding world of electronic pop-rock with their fifth studio album America. Neither rock music created via electronic instrumentation nor rock bands foraying into pop territory are new innovations—but neither has ever been executed so perfectly…

The album sees frontman Jared Leto’s return to music since he famously portrayed DC Comics character The Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad where costars noted the camaraderie that developed from the actor’s easy presence on set and non-intensive acting techniques. The humble Renaissance man’s first foray back into music proves even more worthy than his acting. Leto’s role as lead vocalist is outshone only by his performance as primary songwriter.

So, what makes the musical effort such a grandiose masterpiece? There exists a beautiful, innovative variety between each track of the album that does not detract from the conceptual and musical uniformity of the piece. Step aside, Tommy and The Wall – there’s a new best concept album in town. America erupts into a litany of politically-motivated messages before the first track even begins; the various versions of the album sleeve depict a series of six bold, capital words or names contrasted against a vibrant backdrop and highlight the current cultural state of the nation. The album cover elegantly sets the tone for the tracks it contains, a non-stop thrill ride of variety and quality.

Album highlights include lead single and opening track “Walk on Water” as well as collaboration tracks “One Track Mind” (featuring A$AP Rocky) and “Love Is Madness” (featuring Halsey). The first of these blows away any previously-noteworthy 30 Seconds to Mars tracks (“The Kill” from 2005’s A Beautiful Lie or “Closer to the Edge” from 2009’s This Is War) and immediately proves that the album achieves a new high for the LA trio. The later features perfectly complement the band’s new sound; the band somehow forms a perfect union with each of the artists’ disparaging styles. A$AP Rocky’s perfect flow sets the new standard for the amalgam of rap and rock while Halsey’s cutting vocals unite harmoniously with Leto’s. The track glows as the bright spot in the middle of the album.

The unfortunate low of the album is the boring, overproduced tenth track, “Remedy.” The acoustic piece sees a deviation from the album’s otherwise-constant electronic pop-rock styling. The untoward result forms the greatest drag on the album’s overall score.

On other tracks, Leto masterfully intersperses such vocalizations as “woo” and “ooh” between the perfectly-crafted verbal lyrics. These are augmented by variations performed as background vocals and serve as a uniting factor across the album’s tracks. A similar track-linking exists in the album’s utilization of trap beats throughout the masterpiece; the not-at-all-worn-out musical motif sat ripe for the picking. Especially given consideration alongside the aforementioned A$AP Rocky collaboration, this theme implies possible music influence into less obvious genres such as rap and hip hop. 

The album is certain to age like a fine wine, garnering additional quality and appreciation with age as it settles into its place in American culture and continues to radiate fallout on the music industry, influencing generations of music to come. If you have not begun listening to America by this point in the article, I have irrefutably done it a disservice. The only question that remains is how the boys will top it. 

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