There’s this funny thing about My Chemical Romance. Music fans either see them as a sign that all is lost or as the 2nd coming of some sonic emo Jesus. Middle ground be damned, this crew always elicits a passionate response. The music has changed over the years as the crew has made it obvious they don’t mind following their own progression, regardless of what the critics say and that constant motion is stamped all over their impending release, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
The Fabulous Killjoys are a band of rabble rousing rebels fighting to bring down Better Living Industries, a tyrannical governing cell disguised as a new millennium Amway. Its Duke’s of Hazard meets 1984 with a wild and eclectic soundtrack. Hell, they even have a narrator named Dr. Death Defying. Yup, there’s some living in these tracks which is uncommon for the death note specialists and some of it is even done on the dance floor.
Danger Days starts with the revved up rock of “Na Na Na,” a tune rife with youthful narcissism and selfishness. I take what you have, siphon what I want and destroy what’s not worthy. Within the context of the album though, the thoughts give the impression of bravery as the song begs your body to throw itself wildly around the dance floor. Who knew fighting tyranny could be such a blast?
The first thing that will come to mind when listening to “Bullet Proof Heart” will be Smashing Pumpkins, but the nostalgia is short-lived. This song moves into some pop-like rockabilly thing that finds Jenny and Johnny blowing off the monotony that is their little town lives. The foundation is basic, but it’s the accessorizing that makes the difference, Toro’s awesome guitar work and a really great bridge tie this thing together.
“Sing” is Tony Robbins meets big venue pop. The motivation element sits front and center. Don’t let them mute you. Don’t ever back down from your battle. You have a voice, and it should be heard. It’s the most inspirational and engaging of the self help stuff, but not the most interesting musically. What follows is “Planetary (GO!)” a strange disco/pop/rock amalgam that sounds like it would fit on the Scarface soundtrack if paced slower. Don’t ask why I can see Tony Montana jamming to this, but I can.
Punk thump rears its head with “Party Poison.” Do you like classic guitar stabs and ladies screaming in Japanese? Need a song to jump up and down on your mom’s couch to? Then rock this crowd-surfing special about pretension. “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back” is the most straight forward rock song the album offers and regresses to some old MCR themes. “I’m the only friend that makes you cry, your heart attack in black hair dye.” You can take the goth out of the scene, but you can’t always take the scene out of the goth, right?
“Scarecrow” is a distortion-laden eulogy to childhood and “Summertime” is hazy pop wrapped in a dreamy, warm-weathered mid-tempo jam. This sounds like first love at the beach, watching the sun set and pledging love for eternity or until school starts, whichever comes first. “Destroya” is a tribal drum driven middle finger to the enemy and the nameless faceless folks who don’t believe in you. Our story wraps with “The Kids From Yesterday,” a bittersweet look at the inevitability of adulthood. It’s a calming statement that suggests it’s not as painful as it looks. Then Dr. Death Defying takes us out with the fader. Well, actually it’s the National Anthem but you get the idea.
Wait, there’s some unrelated song appended to the end. “Vampire Money” is a funny poke at the Twilight Series with MCR going in on why they turned down 80 gabillion dollars to record a song for the OST. This probably would have been better off as a separate project. It’s some seriously energetic old school rock, but we are still going to act like it’s not there.
After a complete listen you’ll probably leave this album thinking Danger Days doesn’t have a thing to do with Mad Max or life under Better Living or any of that. This is about the angst involved with coming of age and walking that fine line between being the future and being pissed off at it.
I really hope these kids listening know being an adult and a killjoy don’t have to go hand in hand and that you can bring some of the passion from your youth into adulthood. Maybe that’s the actual point of this album; that the transition to the grown up world appears apocalyptic to our kids. Even if I’m wrong, it’s still an enjoyable pop punk romp that finds the kings of darkness providing a bit of illumination for the next generations path without being all corny about it. Bravo.
My Chemical Romance – “Summertime”
Out of 5
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