It’s always annoyed me that I’m so bad at deciphering poetry. I feel like it’s something I should be good at, but for whatever reason, I’m constantly stumped by even the simplest verses. And I include song lyrics in this. More often than not, I’m heading to genius.com to understand every couplet, groaning when I realise that Katy Perry was actually talking about her vagina and not some fresh baked eclairs. That said, even I didn’t need to rely on annotations to get the gist of Thirty Seconds To Mars’s new track ‘Walk On Water’.
But that isn’t necessarily a criticism. There’s lot to like about the song – the band’s first new material in four years – even if it’s not exactly a treasure trove of mysteries.
‘Walk On Water’ is the latest in an ever-increasing, but already long, list of songs about President Trump’s regime. It’s another sign of the times anthem, albeit one that lacks any subtlety whatsoever, but then maybe that’s appropriate in our instant-gratification culture. And that’s certainly what Jared Leto and his pals deliver here. The anthemic chorus featuring Leto’s throaty bellow is instantly catchy, and the clarity of Leto’s delivery makes the entire track easy to remember. It’s a song that reveals all of itself upon first listen, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it does mean that there’s little to be gained from further listening.
Leto has described the track as ‘timely’, although to be honest we didn’t really need Thirty Seconds To Mars’s hot take to know the world is going to shit. There’s also a few bones to be picked with the lyrics that sound like they were hastily scribbled down on a napkin just before recording began. Although Leto is clearly making reference to the recent unrest in the US, he fails to really condemn anything. “The far right, the left view,” he sings blandly, as though there is any similarity to be made between the two. And when he yells about patriots chanting “Times are changing”, you get the horrible feeling those neo-Nazis might actually interpret this as something of a rallying cry.
As far as creating big, bombastic rock pop goes, Thirty Seconds To Mars pretty much hit the nail square on the head with their latest effort. But in terms of adding anything new, interesting or indeed valuable to the discussion about the current state of America, they’re probably best leaving it to someone who actually has something to say.