Release date: April 6, 2018
In true early 2000s style, the lead single from America, “Walk on Water,” opens the album. Most often, I find this a cheesy pull, but considering Thirty Seconds To Mars hasn’t released an album since 2013, I found this strategy more apt.
So the album opens with the uber-catchy lead single, and then immediately turns into quintessential, whiny rock characteristic of the early 2000s; “Dangerous Night” reminds me all too much of a middle-school me laying on my floor thinking Relient K was the most innovative band I’d ever heard.
The third track, “Rescue Me,” isn’t much better, but then we get the trap-ish “One Track Mind,” featuring — of all people on a Thirty Second To Mars record — A$AP Rocky.
This is my favorite tune on America.
Leto, the principal writer on this track, somehow managed to fuse his whine-rock with trap seamlessly??? The track breathes slowly with a vocal melody that generally hits directly on the beat, and A$AP Rocky is mainly featured on the bridge, with a slight ad-lib in the opening seconds. Often, when commercial pop/rock artists partner with rap or hip-hop artists, it fails miserably as a ploy to make double the money, but Leto manages to fuse the genres on “One Track Mind.”
On “Love is Madness,” the Mars boys team with Halsey, who is obviously much closer to their genre than A$AP Rocky, but, again, it really works. They aren’t trying too hard to fit something into their niche that doesn’t work, but they’re also not trying to be something they aren’t. They’re flowing with the times while staying true to their roots, which is very difficult for a lot of bands.
The rest of the album resembles what I would imagine would be a great soundtrack for any of the Transformers movies; “Monolith,” a one-minute and 38-second instrumental track, makes me feel like the r0bOtz R cOmInG, and while “Hail to the Victor” really fits this theme, I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to see if any trademark wars come out of it.
“Rider,” the last track, has this same heavy-instrumentation feeling, but ends shockingly abruptly, to the point that I thought Spotify had glitched. I’m trying to figure out if that’s the point — if there’s some larger meaning there — but I can’t quite flesh it out. The whole album seems to be straining for this: it’s definitely some kind of protest album, and the cover is attempting some kind of message:
I’m just not totally sure what it is. These are names important in American culture right now, and maybe the point is that they’re random, but I’m not totally sure “Mickey” is on the same level as “Donald.”
Overall, this is rather trite, simple rock music, but, given that, it’s very impressive. Thirty Seconds To Mars managed to make an album that will not only most likely have commercial success due to the unique collaborations, but will also keep previous fans happy and excited about what’s to come.