Thirty Seconds To Mars – ‘It’s The End Of The World But It’s A Beautiful Day’

By Katherine Allvey

Crossing the borders between acting and music is risky business. For every Jack Black, Lady Gaga or Will Smith, there’s Bruce Willis or Kiefer Sutherland. But Jared Leto, the elegant spectre that he is, has once again managed to show he can keep a foot in both worlds. After all, Thirty Seconds to Mars formed before his breakthrough role in ‘Requiem For a Dream’, so he’s always intended to be a double threat. Their music has been as mercurial as his roles with each album barely connected stylistically to the last. If you were a fan of 2005’s anguished rock gem ‘The Kill’, or 2018’s ironic celebrity-worshipping on ‘Walk On Water’, you may not embrace ‘It’s The End Of The World But It’s A Beautiful Day’. Much like their frontman who’s left Gotham for the House of Gucci since their last album’s release, Thirty Seconds to Mars are ever-changing. This time they’ve metamorphosed into the band you’ll listen to next to a pool at 3am after the rest of the party has gone home.

Soft guitar leads to a soulful, intimate confession. “I’ve been lost in your eyes all afternoon,” sings Leto on opening track and first single ‘Stuck’, before looking for the ghost of the person he can never find. This sets the tone for the album: it’s a 21st century quest for the happiness that none of us can ever find. Throughout the album there’s a sense of searching for something elusive that can’t be grasped. and people they go,” Leto laments on ‘Seasons’, probably thinking of the transitory friendships that accompany his stardom. It’s a song of upbeat acceptance over the ever-present drum samples of this record. Leto clings to what he knows, reassuring himself that there is goodness in the world on ‘Life Is Beautiful’, hoping for better in the world.

Thirty Seconds to Mars must have imagined this album less as a singular body of work and more as a collection of singles. Each song follows a set formula, just right for airplay: around one minute of vocal heavy quiet solemnity over beats, then a minute of the full band with a faster tempo, and a final minute back to the slow section. This is completely fine for a track you’d hear as part of a career-spanning live set, or as a one-off in a Spotify mix. However, with eleven songs using the same tactic, you get the feeling that they’re either playing it safe or have more singles planned for this album.

You’d be right to call this a shallow release overall. It’s low on bass and heavy on ethereal, floating vocals with the odd guitar twang to emphasise an idea. However, that’s a deliberate move rather than a shoddy job. Songs like ‘Love These Days’, dealing with hookup culture’s throwaway nature, are light and disposable to reflect the theme. ‘7:1’ presents the loneliness of being in a crowd with empty beats like outside a club. When the Leto brothers want to share a situation they feel passionate about, they drag in every weapon at their disposal. The desire to throw it all away on ‘World On Fire’ rises up like the ashes of whatever they wanted to destroy caught in a breeze. Their lyrics are layered into a light-up mantra on ‘Avalanche’ like an electronic version of the Lumineers.

If you’ve followed Thirty Seconds To Mars’ career, a chilled electronic album won’t be a huge surprise as it’s basically the only genre they haven’t tried yet. Leto fans, and those who spend a lot of time awake at night in the city and need to soundtrack their time, will adore ‘It’s The End Of The World But It’s A Beautiful Day’. Those who are mostly familiar with the band’s big hits may be disappointed. This is a sharp turn away from the sound that popularised the duo. However, it’s only a matter of time until they challenge themselves to tackle another genre. Let’s make the most of their marshmallow-soft comforting electronic era while it lasts.

Kate Allvey

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