Words by Adriana Sanchez
Former My Chemical Romance frontman, Gerard Way took the world by a storm with his astonishing yet booming vocals, extraordinary inventiveness, flamboyant showmanship, while also being dubbed as an emo savior. With MCR’s sudden disbandment, fans were left unsure whether that would be the end of music for Way as he openly discussed his depression and relapse with alcoholism. After battling his personal issues with substance abuse, Way was able to kick his addiction in 2004. In a 2010 interview, he revealed that he had gained the self-control to enjoy the occasional drink once again, but recently decided he wanted to live his life sober for himself and his family. Now a married man with a young daughter, Way is an award-winning comic book writer, a world renowned rock star, and is living out a dream that he once thought wasn’t possible.
Lucky for us, Gerard Way is kicking off his solo debut with the highly anticipated album, Hesitant Alien. As he reemerges as a soloist, Way has ditched the fast-paced punk aesthetic that embodied MCR’s sound, but rather exchanged it for some wild fuzz and radical distortion
Throughout the entirety of the record, there are hints of Way’s own favorites as he channels in his love of glam rock artists and Brit-pop influences. At first listen, the opening track “Bureau” gives almost a Hendrix-like vibe with the start of a heavy riff that blends into something darker as the song continues with a prominent backing beat. Following that is the single, “Action Cat”. As the first released song off the record, the song definitely catches the overall mood of the album with an upbeat, catchy head bobber. Way experiments with strong backing vocals, which is something not heard in any of his previous work, and a low-fi edge in “No Shows”. The effects add an interesting dynamic to the song as it brings some diversity to the song. “Brother” is the oddball on the track listing with its softer alternative sound that seems as though it should be played on major radio stations due to its melodious tune. Things spice up a bit with “Zero Zero” and “Juarez”. Both tracks emulate a certain grittiness that can only really be compared to Sonic Youth’s Goo, seeing that both are centered on fast-paced, heavy guitars that were typically found in a lot of 1970’s garage punk bands. There is a futuristic element that can be heard in “Get The Gang Back Together” as Way’s backup band, The Hormones, play with various types of distorting gear that creates what sounds like robotic babble behind the whoos that are strikingly similar to those heard in Blur’s “Song 2”. The record comes to an end with the optimistic “Maya The Psychic”. The quick, anthematic jam seems to be pulled straight out of a pile of MCR songs that never were. It seems to be another song about teenage angst and calls for revolution as Way seems to be speaking straight to listeners. To add to that, Way writes, “I know you’ve had choices to make but I’m with you-you’re never facing them alone again”, as a reminder that music is an ultimate force.
My Chemical Romance has played a part in shaping the person I am today. Not only were they a gateway into a whole other world of music, but their passion for creativity and honesty inspired me to be an individual–which is what Way is doing. Now that he has helped thousands of people discover themselves through his lyrics and positivity, Gerard is following his own advice by letting his identity shine through his music.
Hesitant Alien is a new turning point for Gerard Way. Though he is known for his eccentric conceptual ideas, Way is freeing himself from those restraints as he is now putting himself on display. He is not reinventing himself, but rather showing the world who he as a person is rather than a hiding behind a mask in The Black Parade. This record is a work of originality. It’s weird and abnormal–but it’s a phenomenal listen.