Going by the name, cover and images of this album, the name of the tracks and the band’s general get-up, My Chemical Romance’s latest offering, Dangerous Days (or to go the whole hog and tell you the full name of the album, Dangerous Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) should be a cracker of a record, smelling of post-punk fun and shades of ha-ha menace. It’s not.
The ten-year-old New Jersey band’s frontman Gerard Way had even stated earlier this year, “I think if you’ve been a fan of our band for a long time then you need these different feelings in your life, these different emotions to come through. And I know that because it’s what we need right now.” So My Chemical Romance wanted to be seen as having matured, having shaken off their ‘let’s be as dark as a Stephenie Meyer teen vampire novel’ sound of their 2006 album, The Black Parade. Danger Days is supposed to be all about having a go at the simple, grown-up pleasures of having rock’n’roll fun.
That may have been the intentions, but since the music seems to have remained aw-goshly emo (despite the band vehemently denying and hating the fact that they have, in the past, been tagged as an ‘emo band’), I’m afraid what we have is large doses of Poison and other 80s air guitar sound minus the hair and plus the Lush Goth juice black hair dye. For old timers like me, it smells like Spinal Tap.
‘Na na na (na na na na na na na na)’ kicks off with hope, smelling of a post-punk pop ruckus reminiscent of Kaiser Chiefs. We descend into something of a hot tub meant for tweebs in the radically awful ‘Bulletproof heart’. The guitar solo in the middle is 80s arena rock fit to be given a pride of place in a title track of an HBO mini-series about rich Malibu kids. We get all ‘sensitive’ in ‘Sing’ (“Sing it for the world/ cleaned-up corporation progress/ dying in the process, children that can talk about it/ living on the webways, people moving sideways”).
The music dramatically turns nice and bump’n’grindily so in ‘Planetary (GO!)’, a high-octane, boppity track for which alone the album gets an extra half a star.
We’re back in the doldrums in ‘The only hope for me is you’ — not the Morrissey-like song it sounds like, but an echo-chambered voice’n’fuzz box ditty fit for a boy band ballad. ‘Party poison’ starts with great pounding and a Japanese vocal intro and guitars lent from Iggy Pop and the Stooges’ ‘Search and destroy’. But beyond this, the plane doesn’t take off the runway. The single song symptomatic of the problem ailing this album is ‘S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W’, a what they used to call a ‘soft rock song’ pumped up to sound well-toned.
‘Destroya’ unfurls its potential heard in its rhythmic ‘poundings from the basement’ and a razor sharp guitar opening. It adds that much-needed ethanol as it proceeds as I find myself shaking my head to this stomper. In fact, things have got considerably better in the second half of the album. The final track, ‘Vampire money’, in its open-buttoned rock'n'rollness even manages to exorcise the memories of the earlier tracks. .
The kings are quiet
From the opening grass-burning track, ‘The end’ to the closing ‘Pickup truck’, we know that the Kings of Leon are taking things slow and easy in their fifth album. Instead of the quickening swigs from the bottle, they’re nursing their drinks now. Caleb Followill’s distinctive vocal nodules, familiar everywhere from bars to departmental stores, is eerily upfront in this laidback album. You can almost see it in the Bruce Spingsteen-meets-Doobie Brothers ‘Radioactive’.
In ‘Pyro’, the tiredness on a rocking chair is traded for a sonic remedy, with an uncharacteristic chorus line. Nothing drastic takes place in the album. Tracks like ‘Mary’, ‘Back down south’ and ‘Mi amigo’ are made-for-stereo rather than gig-friendly songs.
Those who love the chugging quality of the Kings of Leon sound should wait for the next album,. Till then, this is the rocking chair space where you could tide out things a bit.