30 Seconds Drags Forever
On their second album, A Beautiful Lie, 30 Seconds to Mars makes a mildly successful attempt to sound like Incubusâ€šÃ„Ã´s less annoying brother. With spacey keyboards thrown in seemingly just for effect, non-descript guitar and angsty screaming, the band runs through a fairly generic set of â€šÃ„Ãºlight metalâ€šÃ„Ã¹ for the masses. However, the Jared Leto (Requiem for a Dream) fronted band has enough songwriting talent and musical ability to create some ethereal, melodic pieces of music, almost in spite of themselves.Songs like â€šÃ„ÃºATTACKâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºThe Killâ€šÃ„Ã¹ highlight the irritating screaming and overall banality of the majority of the music. As Leto screams â€šÃ„ÃºBury me, Bury me!â€šÃ„Ã¹ on â€šÃ„ÃºThe Kill,â€šÃ„Ã¹ an image of a long buried Incubus B-side is recalled. The final official track, â€šÃ„ÃºA Modern Myth,â€šÃ„Ã¹ shows a band almost forcing themselves to sound melancholy and introspective, right down to the clichâˆšÂ©d swelling strings, hackneyed music, be damned.
However, when 30 Seconds to Mars chooses to cut loose (whether intentionally or by chance of some musical talent rising to the surface), they create some expertly crafted harmonies and melodies, which give off a feeling of floating in a dream. The slick production aids in this, making everything sound incredibly clear, but using enough low-key keyboards to keep things off center. â€šÃ„ÃºWas It a Dream?â€šÃ„Ã¹ and the downright soaring and emoting chorus of â€šÃ„ÃºThe Fantasyâ€šÃ„Ã¹ show what a modern alternative band can really do (and the Sting sounding callback in the background doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t hurt either).
With their sophomore release, 30 Seconds to Mars still shows a rut of convention, conforming against themselves. However, when they do break free, the result is some incredibly good music.