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30 Seconds to Mars

On the '90s show My So-Called Life, Jared Leto courted Claire Danes via acoustic guitar. Leto has enjoyed heartthrob status ever since, appearing in small movies and Tiger Beat centerfolds. What My So-Called Life never revealed -- before being canceled because Claire was too big for the small screen -- was that dreamy Jared became a big Nine Inch Nails and Incubus fan.

For sure, Leto's NIN-styled, the-band-is-me moniker, 30 Seconds to Mars, looks cooler on an album cover than "Jared Leto" would. Like NIN, Jared keeps a four-piece in tow for live shows. Jared Leto doesn't want 30 Seconds to Mars to succeed or fail just because he's Jared Leto. This is evidenced by his tendency to lean into his microphone with Reznoresque urgency under the cover of a beautiful blond mane thick enough to make Fabio blush.

There aren't any properly developed songs here, just plenty of riffs every bit as catchy as they were the first time you heard them elsewhere. Supplementing 30 Seconds' scarcity of melody is a bevy of computerized effects and mechanized drum fills that reek of Nonpoint and BT. White male mid-adolescents will love this from start to finish, albeit with guilty smiles across their faces. It's all pretty silly, really, but Leto's charisma makes it competent enough to offer an emotional break to those given to taking music a little too seriously -- the type with Wilco and Coldplay wearing out welcomes in their changer.

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Tristram Coffin

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