While reviewing their latest record, "This Is War", I mentioned the made a leap forward and addressed some of the issues I had on their first two records. I wouldn't say "This Is War" was record of the year material but it did prove to me 30 Seconds to Mars was willing to work at their art and bring it together to make a step forward. And they did so without betraying themselves musically.
On "Love Lust Faith + Dreams" the band presents us with 12 new songs that either benefit or suffer from a big production, depending on who you ask. I'd consider myself in the latter camp. Birth serves as an intro, nothing more, nothing less, so the record doesn't really start until Conquitador sounds through the speakers. In itself I really enjoyed this song but the production takes away the raw power and any distinction in Leto's vocals. The synth loops are a little out there but despite all that, it still has something appealing. Up In The Air and City of Angels aren't all that memorable though the latter has a pretty nice hook in the chorus.
The band continues to produce a mix of danceable rock tunes and melodic, synth-infused dramarock that fits their image but if you want to hear strong 80s-influenced danceable rock I'd advise you to listen to Editors or White Lies instead as they execute it much better and convincingly. I'm not sure what the point of Pires of Varanasi was supposed to be but I don't think I can get back those 3 minutes of my life. Bright Lights however I really enjoyed. I was still a little put off by the production but you can actually hear a song underneath all the layers and the band doesn't do a half bad job of conveying the emotion in this track. I'd love to hear this one live to see how that turns out. On Do or Die the production actually works really well because it turns this song into a purely synthpop song that fits Leto's vocal color perfectly. I can easily imagine the fans getting into this and singing along to it during a concert. Convergence works as an interlude and the final two tracks are just a little weird.
"Love Lust Faith + Dreams" relies heavily on synths, programming and production, which sets it apart from the band's previous work. Where I thought the band had found its niche on its previous record, it seems they wanted to try something alltogether different. While the album has a couple of tracks that are quite nice I'd still say the experiment failed. The album has a certain commercial appeal but I'd be surprised if it becomes a massive hit. I've been on the fence when it comes to 30 Seconds to Mars for many years and this latest record really doesn't draw me in.