For the last sixteen years, Thirty Seconds To Mars have tested boundaries, transforming from their initial progressive/space rock direction of their self-titled debut to the acclaimed alt rock ‘A Beautiful Lie’, and eventually reaching the experimental, electronically driven pop-rock territory of ‘Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams’.
Like many artists in 2018, Thirty Seconds To Mars felt compelled to make a politically charged album inspired by America’s present state and their latest, fifth studio album, ‘America’, is the pinnacle of their protest. It’s neither solely personal or focused on a global scale, but ‘America’ continues to push boundaries stylistically and lyrically, and ensures an eventful listen.
The album opens well with the massive, catchy sound of ‘Walk On Water’, which almost feels like a callback to the band’s ‘This Is War’ era. With a more electronically enhanced sound, its anthemic chorus and magnetic lyrics imbues the track with a notable optimism, welcoming society to band together rather than be pushed apart. Continuing with a similar sound, the rest of ‘America’ finds itself embracing many of the sounds of modern electronic R&B, with A$AP Rocky‘s bridge on ‘One Track Mind’ being easily accessible to any attentive mainstream listener. Similarly, ‘Hail To The Victor’, ‘Dawn Will Rise’, and ‘Rescue Me’ follow suit, embedding dubstep-esque tracks with dark and political lyrics.
Where the album really shines and succeeds is in its ability to blend its sythentic instrumentation with the older rock elements of the band’s former output. ‘Love Is Madness’ (featuring pop sensation Halsey) is gritty, and ‘Monolith’ builds tension.
Although ‘America’ presents the most contemporary, top 40 friendly version of Thirty Seconds To Mars to date, the album is full of potential both thematically and lyrically. It holds an epicness to it that celebrates life (and America) more wholly. The most powerful of these tracks is ‘Great Wide Open’ – a song that could easily be the country’s new national anthem.
‘America’ is an album about the times we live in, providing a snapshot of this chaotic and uncertain time in history. It’s ambitious and, though it’s sure going to cause controversy from their beloved fans, it certainly feels like a natural addition to the band’s ever-changing catalogue.