My Chemical Romance’s latest effort isn’t so much an album release as a well orchestrated apocalyptic art event. With the advent of listening parties the band last night offered fans worldwide an exclusive preview of the album as hosted by the elusive Dr. Death Defying.
Apparently this is the bands departure from concept albums, but you tell me, fans are ‘killjoys’, areas are ‘zones’, enemies are ‘draculoids.’ Now personally I don’t care about this, they are great at what they do and this whole new world is utterly engrossing, so why change? Though this is still a concept album, it’s a massive leap from their previous sound with everything bright, poppy, and dripping electro from its very core.
Within the first three songs two singles are showcased. The world has already heard ‘Na Na Na’ and is undoubtedly sick of having it infused in their brains, but ‘Sing’ is relatively new and I’m sure it will sneak its way into the charts. Structured like a 30 Seconds To Mars song it seems a bit too epic for such an early place on the album, but it does have some more traditional My Chem breakdowns thrown in.
As much as I hate to say the album is insidiously pop-based, it is. Don’t fear yet though ‘Planetary (Go)’ will have everyone dancing to what is basically a rock song and the lyrical prowess that always made them great is still present “truth is not acceptable, fame is now injectable, process the progress.”
What made My Chem unique were the classic rock riffs from Ray Toro and the chugging punk sound that Frank Iero brought. It’s still very much audible on certain songs but otherwise it all seems to have been run through a synthesizer.
This album will gather the band a brand new assortment of young rock fans and the older ‘killjoys’ will stick with them out of loyalty and no doubt carry with them a sense of ‘I heard them first’ superiority (I know I will) and there is no reason why this shouldn’t bring them new fans, it’s a good album. In terms of their back catalogue it’s a great follow-up to ‘The Black Parade’ and if that was their first album I would be applauding them on creating a genre defining album, or something to that affect, but when you compare this with ‘Bullets’ or ‘Three Cheers’ it seems like their aggression just sort of wilted and died and then the bleakness of ‘The Black Parade’ made sure it had a proper send off. Having said all that ‘Party Poison’ is more along the lines of what I was expecting, being a fast paced, punky, guitar number and this is where the album gets good with ‘Save Yourself I’ll Hold Them Back’ bringing back the misfits-esque normality of the group. Gerard gets his wail back, the very camp My Chem swear of ‘motherfucker’ hits our ears, and we can all revel in some classic 80’s rock riffs. The band hasn’t gone anywhere it’s just a struggle to find them.
The whole concept of the album was originally Gerard’s next comic idea and it would have been a fantastic read there’s no doubt about it, but I’m fucking glad he sacrificed it for the band. Having scrapped an entire albums worth of songs, which I think we all desperately want to hear, the band were clearly in need of some new energy and one thing this album has in spades is energy. Our host for this evening Dr. Death Defying makes this whole thing exactly what it is, an experience. He acts as radio DJ for WKIL a fake radio station operating out of Battery City. He is so convincing me and probably everyone else listening wishes he was a real person and not a creation. Hearing his classic radio voice brings a smile to my face and his lair is pretty damn cool too. More bands need to embrace the concept album and the listening party. It truly is a phenomenon and My Chem is ahead of the curve on this one.
Getting back to the music after some reports from the zones ‘DESTROYA’ hits you in the face and is reminiscent of the experimental sound of early Lostprophets songs like ‘Shinobi Vs Dragon Ninja.’ It wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack for a game like Tekken. As a fan more used to this aggressive sound it’s good to see they still have it on an album that has a lot of ballads. The ballads aren’t bad by any means they are just in too large a quantity. Album closer ‘Vampire Money’ is fucking spot-on and may be the best song on the album, it makes you forget about ‘Na Na Na’ and remember the good old days. It’s fast and vicious with a ‘Wipe Out’ style surf-pop beat throughout. The album isn’t their best and starts off slow, but by the end it will leave you fist pumping and after a few listens you will realise it’s actually not that bad.