Even though Lust, Love, Faith, and Dreams can at times seem somewhat lyrically stripped back, it loses none of the ambition or grandeur that the trio envision for their music. The fresh, innovate blend of experimental beats and instrumentals, fused with their traditional progressive rock sound, creates an artsy and dynamic record that bristles with energy and life. Often, the lyrics can sound awfully pretentious, or perhaps seem relatable only to an angst-ridden teenager girl who is sat lamenting love and life. Yet with a little investment and a reluctant acceptance of Leto’s inclination towards melodrama in his lyrics, the album bubbles away nicely.
From the title track ‘Birth’, which sets the album off explosively, we are treated to pulsating sounds and a surging, dynamic beat that really sets the tone for the rest of Lust, Love, Faith, and Dreams. The sense of grandeur builds in ‘Conquistador’ before ‘Up in the Air’, the lead single, arrives in our speakers, appropriately serving as a showcase of the expansive, ambitious tone of Leto’s over-arching narrative. It comes as no surprise to know that in March the group had sent this very track to NASA to be played in the International Space Station; appropriate for an album that at times seems to aim and shoot for the stars – even if it sometimes falls short.
As the album moves progressively through its concepts, ‘City of Angels’ is a particular highlight; an electronic, subtle beat on which Leto sings with his usual emotional, frustrated tones. The production on Lust, Love, Faith, and Dreams without a doubt deserves some recognition; the two subtle, diverse, and instrumental-like tracks ‘Pyres of Varanasi’ and ‘Convergence’ are distinctly meditative, experimental, and both achieve their goal effectively as transitional tracks. The album ends on a cinematic, ambient note, as ‘Depuis Le Début’ closes out with an amalgamation of different sounds; a somewhat appropriate end to an album that delves in and out of genres.
At times, though, Lust, Love, Faith, and Dreams becomes just a bit too much; Leto’s conceited, ambiguous lyrics often come across as hollow and more than a little pathetic. There is only so much one can take of a confusing mix of wallowing and self-righteous proclamations. Tracks like ‘End of All Days’ sometimes sound overwrought and off the mark. For the most part our exploration of Leto’s conflicted emotions does work, but when it doesn’t, it becomes almost too much to bear.
Overall, then, 30 Seconds to Mars’ latest effort has solid additions to their repertoire of songs; there are new stadium ballads like ‘Do Or Die’, upbeat additions such as ‘Bright Lights’, but at times Jared Leto’s smug, haughty lyrics - albeit in his still silky smooth voice – get the better of the album’s concepts and tone. An album that is well worth the listen, but one this listener has to tackle in smaller doses.