On Monday, Jared Leto's Thirty Seconds to Mars debuted “Up in the Air,” the first single from their upcoming fourth album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, from the International Space Station. Tuesday night, the Los Angeles trio unveiled six new songs from a less celestial (though still cosmic) locale: Jimi Hendrix's iconic Electric Lady Studios in New York City.
In the dimly lit basement studio (where classic albums from the Strokes, Weezer and others were recorded), music execs, journalists and a reclusive Olsen twin (most likely Leto's exe Ashley, but who can really tell...) gathered to sample the LP. Beer and wine were sipped and soon the lights were cut for a video clip that was, essentially, a self-congratulating tour through the band's career highlights. Then we heard the band's first new material in three years.
What did we learn? Well, that vocalist Jared Leto, guitarist Tomo Miličević and drummer Shannon Leto (Jared's brother) are sticking to their anthemic alt-rock guns, but exploring new, more contemporary sounds. The band add electronica production and dance beats to support their hard-hitting rock.
Specific album details are yet to be confirmed, so the LP's track list and song titles weren't available at press time. Read about the six songs below and stay tuned to Fuse for updates.
From the track's opening tribal drum beats at least one thing was clear: This isn’t your typical 30STM. The band open the session with a statement, channeling "Bohemian Rhapsody" on a multi-movement epic. Combined with an electric buzz—think the sound of a hospital's EKG machine—an eerie, powerful and cinematic tone was set... then self-detonated with the band’s recognizable alt-rock bombast, complete with soaring violins. “This is a fight to the death!” Leto roared. The track closed with a massive, stadium-filling chorus, delivered in his famous screamo vocal.
Song 2 / "Up in the Air":
With its four-on-the-floor beat, dance-y synth and trance effects, 30 Seconds to Mars' comeback single “Up in the Air" is crafted for 2013's EDM-obsessed music world. It's piano drama and Leto's melodramatic vocals about "portraits of a tortured you" will satisfy their core fan base, but should find a home on the dance floor, too.
Song 3 / Possibly titled "City of Angels":
Forget Ben Gibbard—perhaps Jared Leto should've won those rehearsals and landed the gig as Postal Service frontman. 30STM channel Gibbard's electronic side-project on this track, possibly titled "City of Angeles," with gliding, '80s-inspired synthesizers. But soon hard rock guitars and percussion come crashing in on the chorus as Leto sings, “Lost in the City of Angels / Down in the comfort of strangers / I found myself.”
30STM again go the synthy dance route on the track's intro before fire-alarm guitars and pummeling drums roar in and smash the Korg keyboards to bits. Like "Up in the Air," the raging rock sound is paired with a pulsing EDM beat, which takes over for a few bars before the final anthemic chorus arrives with Leto shouting, "And the story goes on," repeating the final syllable. It's so catchy it could've been a contender for the LP's first single.
The fifth track, an interlude of sorts, opens with the pastoral sound of birds chirping. The ominous thrum of cellos and chill-inducing chanting enter, hinting at some impending doom. It's an epic swell, sans crashing guitars, drums or even English lyrics.
Song 6 / Possibly titled "Bright Lights":
The sixth and final song played during the listening session was a soft, piano-led tune with soaring yet gentle electric guitars and synths. “Bright lights, big city / She dreams of love / Bright lights, big city / She lives to run,” Leto coos with a raw, strained delivery. He sounds vulnerable and it's touching closure.
After a round of applause the members of Thirty Seconds to Mars–all sporting a new look with longer hair 'dos; Leto's was pulled back into a ponytail–delivered a short and vague speech about the album, which the boys called “a new beginning.” In a candid moment Leto called himself a "control freak" and thanked his record label team for letting him “annoy the living sh-t out of you” with his constant e-mails.
Finally, the band previewed the opening 60 seconds of their music video for “Up in the Air,” which flashed pics of different animals (including the baby zebra on the single’s cover) and ended with the band’s shiny new logo—yet another sign that 30STM are shooting for the stars with their ambitious new album.