My Chemical Romance
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
Five years ago, New Jersey-born post-hardcore screamo band My Chemical Romance opened up for Green Day on their genre-challenging American Idiot Tour, and clearly the young band was paying attention. With 2006’s The Black Parade, the group started playing with the concept of a grand design that goes beyond the collection of songs that makes up a release, breaching into the conceptual album realm. They had their costumes, a theme that ran through the length of the album (death), a sort of alter-ego for the band (The Black Parade), and grandiose musical production that flirted with worlds previously dominated by the likes of Queen and PInk Floyd. Throughout it all, the music had more melody and more accessibility than anything they had previously released.
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys raises the stakes even higher, and pushes the group out of its roots in goth teen angst on into the world of epic punk pop (say ‘hello’ to Green Day again, boys). Fueled by lead singer Gerard Way’s foray into the world of graphic novels (The Umbrella Academy), Danger Days has a futuristic sci/fi plot that again recreates My Chemical Romance as an alter-ego band, The Fabulous Killjoys. Set in the year 2019, the band are a bunch of colorful rebels fighting against the big corporation, raising hell, and having a party while running from the law. It’s a perkier side of My Chemical Romance, and the music reflects it.
The album is full of ridiculously fun and even dancey songs that, while very un-My Chemical Romance in flavor, are undeniably great! Upon hearing the kick off single “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” — which may just lay claim to song title of the year — I decided to take the full album for a ride and was unexpectedly hooked. “Bulletproof Heart,” opens quiet and pretty with some slow emo vocals only to explode into a gem of a ditty that soars like The Cars in a way that The Killers were attempting to do on their last release, but without the arrogance in effort. “Planetary (GO!)” is a body-shaking dance rocker. “Vampire Money,” a song that pokes fun at the bands that have been battling to get on the various Twilight soundtracks, may rip off Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” in melody, but it’s too good of a song for me to care.
Throughout the album are 30-second, fake radio spots that, while skippable after the initial listen, are meant to keep the concept and futuristic apocalyptic world intact. Like these short blips on an otherwise impressive piece of work, every now and then the band takes a wrong turn into trying-too-hard territory as on “The Only Hope For You Is Me” and “The Kids From Yesterday” which feel a little too 30 Seconds to Mars in their delivery.
“Summertime,” a somewhat indie electro ballad, is a golden moment that most listeners would never pin as an MCR tune. Is that a good thing? For longtime fans, perhaps not, but for those who had previously ignored the band it’s a new introduction to a band worth giving a second chance.
My Chemical Romance: www.mychemicalromance.com