“Love Lust Faith + Dreams,” the new fourth recording from Jared Leto’s alt-rock outfit 30 Seconds to Mars, is nothing if not apocalyptic.
It opens with deceptively jazzy horns of “Birth,” but downshifts into Wagnerian epics like the fallen-empire study “Conquistador,” the morbid piano dirge “End of All Days,” the rattlesnake-percussion “Northern Lights,” and the majestic single “Up in the Air,” with the brooding lyric “Is this the end I feel, up in the air, f****d up on life?”
Reflecting on the magnum opus, the singer laughs.
“Well, I guess I just can’t write a pop record!” he says.
While Leto – who brings 3STM to Live 105’s BFD concert at Shoreline today – acknowledges the album’s innate darkness, it also feels like a bright new beginning for his band, which battled a $30 million lawsuit filed by its label Virgin during the recording of its 2009 effort “This is War,” a process documented in the Leto-directed film “Artifact.”
“The last album was about conflict and survival, but this is an album that’s much more reflective,” he says. “It was made without the burden of a giant war on our shoulders, and it was actually a lot of fun.”
Seasoned composer Leto, 41, can now balance this dark-light and yin-yang in a single song.
One sinister new track, “The Pyres of Varanasi,” was written in India.
“It was inspired by a place where they have been cremating bodies on the Ganges river for about 5,000 years,” he explains. “It’s an incredibly intense place. There were bodies being burned everywhere. So although it’s about death, there’s something beautiful about it, as well, that makes you think about life itself, and how magical life can be. So I don’t necessarily intend those things to be grim.”
The part-time actor first made his mark playing Claire Danes’ high school crush Jordan Catalano on mid-1990s TV’s “My So-Called Life.”
He jumped to the silver screen with roles in “Fight Club,” “Panic Room,” and “Lord of War,” and he recently lost more than 30 pounds to play a transgendered AIDS patient in the upcoming 1986-set docu-drama “Dallas Buyers Club,” alongside Matthew McConaughey. “It was part of the process of bringing that character to life,” he says.
Leto keeps making fans. Notorious artist Damien Hirst designed the “Love Lust” album cover, and contributed to the video for “Up in the Air,” a number that Falcon-rocketed 261 miles above Earth to premiere on the International Space Station.
“I still feel that spirit to create and share things with people,” he says. “And to work really hard and make something great. Something that people will be excited about.”