My Chemical Romance release their fourth album 'Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys' on November 22. Dan Martin has heard it...
Back in February I heard six songs that were apparently destined for the April-due fourth album from My Chemical Romance. It was exciting. Gerard Way told me subsequently how they were done with hiding behind alter-egos and were stoked to be making a back-to-basics rock album.
The songs were good, some of them great. But with fabulous hindsight, the whole thing sounded just a little bit too of this Earth. Not long after Bob Bryar left in still-mysterious circumstances. Then the band announced they were going to back to do a few more tweaks.
Thank Hell they did. Because what feels like an eternity later, on Friday I went into the record company under armed guard (not really) and heard the record as it has eventually materialised. And OH MY GOD you’re going to like this.
‘Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys’ changes the game in exactly the same way ‘The Black Parade’ did, while managing to be completely different from it in every single way.
It channels the band’s genius tastes for the absurd and the outlandish into a record in gleeful love with the macho pleasures of old school rock’n’roll. The jazz hands aren’t visible to the naked eye, but they’re there in spirit.
From the songs I heard back in February, when Gerard believed the album was finished, the garage-thrash ‘Black Dragon Fighting Society’ and daughter-ballad ‘Light Behind Your Eyes’ have been dropped completely.
And the best song from that bunch, ‘Bulletproof Heart’ has been tantalisingly kept back from the copy doing the rounds in the UK, but apparently will make the final tracklisting. Back then it was camp and Killersy and pop, but you should also remember that the songs from that sampler which did survive are barely recognisable from the originals.
This is the best rock record of the year by such a margin that you actually feel rather embarrassed for everybody else. This isn’t over-excitement. In 2010’s final act, consider rock’n’roll saved.
‘Look Alive, Sunshine’
Things kick off all ‘Songs For The Deaf’ as our host of sorts, pirate radio DJ Dr Death Defy welcomes the Killjoys with a great big clarion call. It’s the bit from the start of the trailer, basically.
‘Na Na Na’
The single, as you know. A hare-brained garage spectacle of a thing that reinvents MCR as day-glo outlaws at a Motocross rally. Thing is, as thrillingly fresh-faced as it is, it’s actually the most ‘MCR so far’ thing to be found here, which is really saying something. From here on in, all bets are off.
Starting off synthy, slinky and just a little bit funky, ‘Sing’ then erupts into another call to euphoric call to mass doing-stuff-together as waves of filthy bass cascade around Gerard as he sings, “You’ve got to be what tomorrow needs” as he dodges elephant-stomp drums. This is the likely second single.
More straight-ahead rock underpinned by a slight Giorgio Moroder thing going on in the background, giving way to scattershot machine-gunny guitars as the album hits its masculine stride.
‘The Only Hope For Me Is You’
The original version we heard of this was a big emotive ballad in the vein of ‘I Don’t Love You’. Here it’s synthed up and theatrical, almost turning into a 4/4 house tune at one point before morphing into sabre-toothed gonzoid, robotic thrash. Amazing.
‘Jet-Star And The Kobra Kid / Traffic Report’
Dr Death Deft is back with a traffic report, and an instruction to “die with your mask on if you have to.”
Live versions of this are all over the internet in its original incarnation as ‘Death Before Disco’. The new version is less Hives-y and more bloodcurdling. “This ain’t a party / get off the dancefloor / you wanna get down / I wanna gang war.”
‘Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back’
A massive FM rock love-letter to fans, taking off from the message left at the end of ‘Famous Last Words’ last time round. Lyrically this is familiar territory to what MCR have always done, imploring, “This ain’t a room full of suicides,” giving way to the band’s renewed sense of determination: “We can live forever if you’ve got the time.”
‘The Scarecrow Blues’
This is the best song. A ludicrously gay lighters-aloft Starship style ANTHEM. Except nothing being that simple, it’s buried beneath swathes of thick, filthy crude oil and feedback such that you can barely even hear the vocal. BRAVE.
‘Anytime You Want’
A great big pop song with an irresistible Hall and Oates sheen and very possibly the most memorable chorus on an album not exactly short of them.
Huge tribal goth guitar groove, repeated over and over again like a heavy metal Stone Roses doing something from The Rocky Horror Show, culminating in Gerard screeching the title over and over and over and over again. Insanely heavy, and therefore brilliant.
‘The Kids From Yesterday’
Can’t remember much about this one was cos was still picking self up off the floor after ‘Destroyah’. It’s a bit slow and windswept.
‘Goodnite Dr Death’
And our compere signs off, followed by something so hilarious and brilliant it would be considered a spoiler if we were to reveal it to you now.
Classic bastard Stooges garage rock, by way of the Tazmanian Devil from Looney Toons. My Chem goof up, freak out, screech off into the sunset. RESULT.