When Gerard Way announced New Jersey scrappers My Chemical Romance’s split a little over a year ago in a marathon 2000-word Twitter soliloquy, veering off on wild tangents about freeing a bird trapped in his nearby library, he accompanied the post with a picture of escape artist Harry Houdini. The message was clear – Way had escaped a band that at various points drove him to a dangerous brink, struggling with alcoholism and addiction to prescription drugs. Now solo, another great escape awaits – can the 37-year-old really swerve the shadow of his former band, a group who sold over 4m albums, inspired a Daily Mail moral panic, headlined festivals the globe over and rewired modern rock into a grand, theatric, operatic beast?

The vital signs are good. Last night (June 11), the singer shared ‘Action Cat’, a fuzzy, sunny pop-punk sing-along that leaves behind the pomp and painted melodrama of My Chemical Romance’s latter days for something more direct. “Do you miss me? ‘Cos I miss you,” he cries through rougher, swampier production than MCR fans might be used to. Way’s talent with a vocal hook remains the same, but guitars clatter and clank with a little more violence than before.

According to Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of Kurt, there’s more unexpected turns to come from Gerard’s solo material: “I’m really excited for Gerard. He’s been working on this project for a while and its sound and vibe is the polar opposite from My Chemical Romance,” she told NME last week. “I’ve watched him evolve over 9 years of friendship and I think this is the best music he’s ever produced. It’s gritty, stripped down, raw and lyrically poetic in a way he hasn’t explored before. It’s gonna knock people on their asses, whether it’s a positive reaction or not.”

For now, ‘Action Cat’ is an intriguing, breezy glimpse at what’s to come: a three minute scuzz-pop joyride that will have fans more excited than ever to see what Way magics up on his debut album, due later this year.