America by 30 Seconds To Mars: Confused and divided just the like country (album review)

Where do I begin with this album???

Thirty Seconds to Mars have been one of my favourite bands with some amazing songs like “This is War”, “Hurricane” or “ From Yesturday”. You know, when they were a ROCK band… But lately,  they are becoming less and less the band I once  fell in love with. Don’t get me wrong, I am and will always be in favour of bands trying new things and exploring all creative avenues. A great exemple, Linkin Park… I’ve been a fan of all their materials… Experiment but don’t become a sellout….

Which brings me to “America”, the fifth studio album by Thirty Seconds to Mars and the follow up to 2013’s “Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams” an album that also divided the critics. One fact, “America” is released with an attention-grabbing marketing campaign which involves words associated with parts of American culture and life on neon coloured signs with the band’s name alongside them. It’s catching and gets a point across, but it also highlights the first problem with the album. The marketing and the album are not directly connected in any way, and the marketing does not play into any themes explored on the album. It seems like a little bit too much, for a very small payoff…. but since I’m working in a PR/Media agency, it’s a nice PR campaign!

Let get the elephant out of the room right away… The US is going tru a hard and trouble times so does 30STM with this album. YEAH, I think this is perhaps the worst album from Thirty Seconds to Mars. I think this largely because it is the one that feels the least like it was actually written by a band.  The album has no identity. For starters, the band’s involvement seems to be limited at best, with Tomo Milicevic being pretty much absent on most of the songwriting credits and it greatly shows, as there is a distinct lack of guitars anywhere near this album. Most of the album was seemingly written by Jared Leto and a team of hip producers and outside writers who apparently have nothing to do with 30STM in the first place. “America” should have been a Jared Leto solo album, side-project…

The album opens well with the not so bad “Walk on Water” which feels like a callback to the bands’ “This Is War” era and seems to promise things the rest of the album cannot deliver on. Sadly, the song is also a little ruined by excessive autotuned vocals (just like the album), even Cher would be jealous… Are we in 2000, still?

But true,  “Walk On Water” rallies listeners to fight for hope and change, a euphoric dose of optimism that could convert the hardest of hearts. “Great Wide Open” kicks off the second half of the album with U2-sized cinematic drama, playing like a new national anthem.

The rest of the album is hit-or-miss, depending on the listener’s headspace and generosity. “Dangerous Night” shimmers with production by Zedd, who layers electronic snaps and cavernous bass atop the band’s arena-sized, inspirational rock. The result sounds similar to what former tourmates Muse attempted with their late-era output.

It’s not bad, but after that… it’s going downhill… and fast… “Rescue Me” sounds like the Chainsmokers were let loose in the studio with Maroon 5, while the awful “Hail To The Victor” bridges the trap buzz of Taylor Swift’s “…Ready For It?” with Fall Out Boy’s MAN I A. One surprise is “Remedy” sang by Shannon Leto and feel totally natural with his acoustic guitar. This moment was the 30STM that I remember…. but now miss.

“America” is the first album by Thirty Seconds to Mars that I have fundamentally hated from top to bottom. An album that lacks soul and conviction, that is completely devoid of a personality. Also it is completely crippled by overbearing production that strips it of all humanity. It seems to have been created by someone who is riding a wave of their own self important momentum. It would have been better served as a solo album than something bearing the name of one of the world’s biggest bands. An experiment that has sadly failed and leaves the listener. ROCK is dead according to 30STM 🙁

Rating: 4 / 10

Essential Tracks: “Walk On Water”, “Remedy”, “Dangerous Night”

America is released on the 6th of April through Interscope Records.