Review of 30 Second to Mars’ new album: Another nail in the coffin of modern rock

The early 2000s mega rock band, 30 Seconds to Mars released their newest album America on April 6. This 12-track album encompasses everything wrong with modern rock.

Similar to many early 2000s rock bands, the fate of 30 Seconds to Mars was sealed when rock was adopted by the masses. Their newest album takes a similar approach that other bands such as Fallout Boy and Coldplay have taken in recent years. The guitar riffs and complex lyrics that make up traditional rock are thrown out the window to make way for auto-tune, pop beats and popularity.

Fronted by actor and singer Jared Leto, his brother Shannon and Tomo Miličević, 30 Seconds to Mars made it big with some of their earlier music. The band was formed in 1998 and released their debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars in 2002. At this time, they were at the height of modern rock music. Now in the era of rap and pop, they are forced to change their sound in order to get play time. This is obvious with the release of America. Similar to other former popular rock bands from the 90s and early 2000s, 30 Seconds to Mars seems to think auto-tune and random features are the secret to radio play.

Since hits such as “The Kill” and “This is War,” the trio has lost their sound. They are proving to be a one-hit wonder more and more every day. Whether this is due to Leto’s popularity or pressure from management, it is obvious the end of 30 Seconds to Mars’ loyal fan base is near.

The opening track of the album, “Walk on Water,” has already gained its fair share of radio play and support by angsty teens. It is certainly a catchy song if you don’t look for musical or lyrical talent in your music. Paired with the auto-tune vocals and cheesy background chorus it is a failed attempt to address the current political climate. However, as surface level as the music is the vocals fall even flatter. Leto sings, “Times are changing / A think the line, the whole truth / The far right, the left view / Breaking all those promises made.” The mention of politics stops there and so does any lyrical depth.

30 Seconds to Mars attempts to appeal to a newer demographic with features from A$AP Rocky and Halsey. With each feature, the band adopts the featured artist’s style, proving more and more they’ve lost their sound. “One Track Mind ft. A$AP Rocky” continues the only consistent theme of the album, the use of auto-tune. The song takes on an electronic vibe that is extremely out of character for a former rock band. The addition of A$AP Rocky adds nothing to the song except his name. It seems as if the band members Googled, “what are the kids listening to these days?”

While most of the album veers from the typical rock sound that 30 Seconds to Mars fans used to love the song, “Remedy” is an allusion to their past work. The acoustic guitar and natural vocals prove that there still might be some talent left underneath the surface. The lyrics are still surface level but the lack of obvious auto-tune is a nice treat from the rest of the album. This is more of the progression fans would expect from such a big-name band.

America is not the best album to come out of the 30 Seconds to Mars’ legacy but it is a reflection of today’s popular music. Rock is changing and rebranding itself, or at least 30 Seconds to Mars is. It is up to true fans of the genre to stop the overplaying of these low-quality “rock songs.”

Contact CU Independent arts writer Charlotte Spaeth at charlotte.spaeth@colorado.edu.

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