By Steve Thomsen / Staff Writer
By Steve Thomsen / Staff Writer
The music scene is a wasteland of the socially acceptable. The same predictable four chords have been trashing our collective unconscious for far too long.
Then there’s a band called My Chemical Romance, whose career hit an all time high with the 2006 release “The Black Parade.”
Sure, to the casual listener they may sound like Fall Out Boy or Panic! At The Disco. The same used to be true for their image.
In all likelihood this merry band of New Jersey rockers could have toned it down. But they turned it up. And so, with much relief, it can be honestly stated that “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” is nothing short of mainstream rock and roll genius.
In any good music artist’s career the band will inevitably write a concept album to prove its artistic merit. Green Day did this to huge success with “American Idiot.”
My Chemical Romance pulled this off with “The Black Parade” to similar although not quite as impressive record sales.
It was a major step forward from the band’s previous effort, the melodramatic emo smash hit “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge.”
“The Black Parade” was more focused, more dramatic, and produced by Rob Cavallo (who also worked with Green Day.) It was a great album, and an important one.
“Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” is an impressive follow-up, and they deliver. Oh, do they deliver.
To say I was skeptical about the prospect of going out and buying an “emo” album is an understatement.
But this album was a total pleasant surprise. It was loud like a ’90s punk album, garish like an old grind house flick, fictional like a Smashing Pumpkins record, and produced to near perfection by Brendan O’Brien of Pearl Jam and AC/DC fame.
“Danger Days” takes so many different styles and creates a product that is so rebellious and unique it actually puts the underground music, that competes in depravity, to shame. It’s that good.
Songs like “Na Na Na” and “Party Poison” are catchy and energetic. They don’t rock as hard as other bands of the new millennium: they rock harder.
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll fuel the lyrical content of these anthems.
And then there’s “Planetary GO!,” a rock and roll disco tune with such infectious energy you can’t help but get down to it.
And then there are songs that just bring it home like “The Kids from Yesterday,” which remind us that even though we’re growing old our souls are still with the music that keeps us young.
The whole album seems conceptually driven like “The Black Parade.”
In this effort, the band has adopted a grind house appeal. The disc came with a video for “Na Na Na” in which the band, dressed in very colorful and tattered clothing, fight masked villains in a vast desert.
The theme is almost dystopian, like a pirate radio signal in the nuclear apocalypse. And this radio still plays the music of the better days, the days before it hit the fan.
Several times throughout the album we hear a radio DJ named “Doctor Death Defying,” who’s clever vernacular and poetic metaphors add the spice to the overall dish that is “Danger Days.”
Where can a band that has done nothing but rise further and further to the top go? Will it lead all the way to the rock and roll throne?
Probably not, but they have established themselves as one of the most talked about bands of the decade.
They didn’t sell out, wash up, or make failed attempts at reviving former glories. They stepped out into a bold new direction, one that makes the rest of their work look tame and amateur in comparison.
And they will probably take that as a compliment. This album cannot be recommended any more highly.
Any skepticism should be dismissed instantly.
This is the anti-trendy party rock album the rest of the scene wishes they wrote. Just make sure to clean up after the party’s over.