My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
Four years on from their genre defining, world conquering, Daily Mail-bothering emo opus The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance are back touting a new sound and a fresher look. Gone is the dark, angsty approach and sombre, gothic look – replaced by a frantic, energetic and pop-based sound and, in front-man Gerard Way’s case, a Cobain-esque shock of bright pink hair. They’re press shots even have them smiling! That this change of approach has coincided with their audience growing up and becoming more interested in partying and getting drunk – rather than moping in their bedrooms angry at their parents – is something for the cynics to contemplate. For now, let’s just focus on what is a great pop-punk album.
In contrast to The Black Parade, which was concerned with the anger of a disenfranchised generation and painted in a bleak, sombre palette, Danger Days… is bursting with colour and vibrancy. First single ‘Na Na Na …’ is a frantic opener boasting the kind of explosive riff-and-solo combo that defies even the gloomiest of emo kids not to crack a smile and throw their hands in the air. ‘Bulletproof Heart’ features a chorus designed to provoke mass arena sing-a-longs while ‘Planetary (GO!)’ is just plain crazy – with a siren call and electro drums exploding into a riot-inducing frenzy.
One of the most damning charges brought before emo and My Chemical Romance in particular is that they, and their ‘MCRmy’, take themselves a tad too seriously. While Danger Days… demonstrates My Chemical Romance are capable of progressing away from the genre they defined, they’re not able to totally abandon it just yet. In the grand tradition of bands who take themselves too seriously, My Chemical Romance wrap Danger Days…in an elaborate and at times incomprehensible sci-fi concept. Although their commitment to the concept is admirable (there is even a website for the futuristic capitalist baddies, Better Living Industries) and it helps give the album a cinematic feel, it just feels a bit silly – like they’ve aimed for Blade Runner but come up with Star Wars.
If you can manage to ignore the silliness and focus on the pure pop-punk thrill of it all though, you’ll find Danger Days…an enjoyable and at times thrilling album. ‘Party Poison’, for instance, recalls The Hives at their hedonistic best and is probably the most fun three and a half minutes My Chemical Romance have ever produced.