Gerard Way’s hair can be used as a type of barometer. If his long, black locks of the past marked My Chemical Romance’s more death obsessed, emo phase, his new shocking pink hair heralds the way for an equally technicolour, attention seeking album that’s set to become massive. Set in 2019, the album follows the band as their alter-egos, the Fabulous Killjoys, fight against the evil cooperation Better Living Industries. This album sees them breaking out of the pigeon hole they created for themselves with The Black Parade more than 4 years ago, and which subjected them to be mercilessly vilified by the media. Shaking off the constraints of the emo stereotype, they retain their spirit of rebellion, but have created a much more liberated album, which is also more diverse, fresh and fun.
You can hardly have failed to notice the release of the first single from the album, ‘Na Na Na’. It’s loud, fast-paced, self indulgent and pure unadulterated fun, making it the perfect mood setter for the rest of the album. With its layered vocals, energetic guitars and thrashing drums, it still contains the same teenage angst and rebellion that MCR are known for whilst proving that they really are back and having more fun than ever. The essence of this is shown most clearly in the second single ‘Sing,’ an anthem for the misrepresented and a typical MCR call to arms with synths and a heavy bass line replacing the more familiar guitars. However it verges on the slightly annoying ‘30 Seconds to Mars’ territory as the pop-rock chorus somehow falls short and seems a bit contrived and vacuous.
Tapping into modern mainstream music, the most major difference with this album would be the techno edge that has appeared in many of their songs and will probably lose them as many fans as it will gain. On first listen ‘Planetary (GO!)’ is genuinely shocking as it is essentially a dance song that would be more at home in an aerobics class than getting down and dirty in a mosh pit. ‘Destroya’ returns to much more punk-rock roots with the Refused-like hardcore screams and vocals only just intelligible beneath layers of heavy distortion. It wouldn’t be My Chemical Romance without at least one ‘they don’t believe in us!’ to restore our faith that every trace of emo has not been lost.
Throughout the album the narrator Dr Death checks in on us, via a radio broadcast. His bizarre language is heavily influenced by ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and in the same way as this the songs hide serious messages beneath a more cheery atmosphere. At first listen ‘S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W’ sounds like the product of consuming copious amounts of MDMA; its ethereal, trippy, romantic and psychedelic; however beneath the soft vocals and melodic guitars there reveals a bleaker message with the scarecrow forming a metaphor symbolising nuclear annihilation. ‘Vampire Money’ also provides its own digs at society as it responds scathingly to the current romanticised vampire hysteria and in particular their offer to write a song for Twilight, which they vehemently rejected.
The diversity of this album means that every song adds something different to the plate, with ‘Summertime’ being the only song that could really be considered a filler. Its seems over the past few years that it has been almost taboo to admit to listening to My Chemical Romance but this is a truly revolutionary album for the band and should help to win around those more stubborn and sceptical about their emo credentials.