The emo pin-up reinvents himself with shades of Britpop and Bowie
In August, Gerard Way admitted to NME that he disbanded My Chemical Romance in 2013 because life had led him to a “dark place” where he was “self-medicating to get through”. Unable to cope after the release of their 2010 album ‘ Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’, he turned to alcohol. Then, having built a career on being the pasty-faced poster boy for a generation of teenage angst, he decided to aim for an older crowd. While making this debut solo record, he looked deliberately beyond the MCR-my. “Grown-ups would look at what we were doing and say, ‘This is high school music’,” the 37-year-old explained. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want the acceptance of people my own age.”
Way is hoping ‘Hesitant Alien’ will rid him of emo pin-up status for good. Far from MCR’s high-octane tantrums, it’s a surprising album full of hooks informed by the melodies of Britpop. But the biggest surprise of all is that he succeeds in his reinvention with barely a misstep.
Opening track ‘Bureau’ is built around descending chords that find Way’s new backing band The Hormones all dressed up in Suede: Way’s most obvious touchstone here is Brett Anderson’s damaged theatrical glamour. ‘No Shows’ flits between epic anthemics and fuzzy soloing, and the prowling bass of ‘Zero Zero’ dominates the song’s distorted vocals. But it’s ‘Get The Gang Together’ that’s the outstanding highlight – riff-heavy and sleazy, it’s like Queens Of The Stone Age after an androgynous makeover.
Elsewhere however, British influences abound. ‘Aladdin Sane’-era Bowie informs the punchy strut of each song. ‘Maya The Psychic’ is drawn from Ash’s book of radio bangers and the hazy tambourine shake of ‘Drugstore Perfume’ makes sense of Way’s recent live covers of The Jesus And Mary Chain’s ‘Snakedriver’. The catchy ’60s lilt of ‘Millions’ proves he can do pop too, as guitars wash over abstract lyrics (“Lets make up everything and wake up breathing/Don’t give a damn about the wreck you leave in”). Gerard Way has wiped the slate clean and started afresh, with invigorating results. He’ll easily build a new army.
Director: Doug McKean
Record label: Warner Bros
Release date: 29 Sep, 2014