My Chemical Romance: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

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Posted September 1, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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Emo band turns to bland alt-pop on latest concept album

It’s tough being relevant as an emo band when subtler indie music has slowly replaced the last remnants of TRL-inspired pop excesses, leaving even artsier bands like My Chemical Romance with a true dilemma regarding stylistic direction. Coming off their first major success with the blistering, punkier Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, lead singer Gerard Way and company responded with the emo rock-opera The Black Parade, leaving fans and critics wondering how they could manage to top it all with their 2010 follow-up Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys. Unfortunately, it seems that MCR wasn’t really sure themselves, so they just made another concept album, this time with a blander blend of straight-up pop-rock, a less cohesive narrative, and lyrics that fail to resonate quite as they had before.

The story this time around is that the band’s alter egos (as the titular Fabulous Killjoys) are living in a post-apocalyptic America, but the only real hint of this beyond the cover art is the occasional interlude by a snarky radio DJ whose colorful quips barely tie the whole theme together. So, after a quick introduction by “DJ Death Defying,” the band hits hard with their energetic first single, “Na Na Na,” and its incessantly juvenile and repetitive refrain before heading on to the more-typical MCR track that is “Bulletproof Heart,” which despite its resemblance to earlier hits, lacks the same caliber of depth and conviction. Scouring the wastes for a glimpse of hope, the two strongest tracks on Danger Days feature an evolved form of the raw, guttural vocals and urgent instrumental parts MCR fans have come to expect. As such, “Planetary (GO!)”’s infectiously unbridled dance-rock and “Destroya”’s tense combination of world percussion and rising minor-scale string lines stand out amongst a host of less-inspired tunes.

Danger Days’ low points include the forgettable “Party Poison,” the oddly-saccharine “Summertime,” and the totally unjustifiable bonus track “Vampire Money,” which was written for one of the Twilight films but added here (despite not relating to the theme at all) since MCR pulled out of the soundtrack deal. Furthermore, there is a noticeable omission of any true slow songs on Danger Days, even though the slower pacing made for a nice counterpoint to the band’s otherwise frantic riffing on previous albums.  Sure, the DJ interludes do offer some welcome respite, but they’re not featured enough to give the album the kind of effective dynamic contrast it needs.

Ultimately, while Danger Days does manage to be an acceptable pop-rock album, its change in stylistic direction for the band, unconvincingly presented concept, lack of lyrical depth, and inability to connect with the listener, makes it an unfortunate misstep for the outfit. Thus, barring the chance that the band just needs one more shot at reinventing itself, this might be a sign that MCR’s fictional death in The Black Parade might have actually been less fictional than the band intended.

RYAN BURRUSS

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 22 November 2010
  • Label: Reprise
  • Producers: Rob Cavallo, My Chemical Romance
  • Spin This: “Planetary (GO!),” “Destroya”


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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