From the breakup of the alternative rock band My Chemical Romance (MCR) last year comes lead singer Gerard Way’s debut album Hesitant Alien. Hesitant takes on a style largely consisting of a mix of Britpop and fuzz punk and makes a departure from the alternative rock side of MCR by including a new, retro vibe.
Overall, this record is outstanding with creative riffs and simple structures that give off an old-fashioned feel to each song. Although MCR may be gone for good, this album shows that there’s still some MCR left in Gerard. Each song seems to sound like an MCR song in one way or another, and they altogether fall in to the genres of fuzz punk and Britpop.
Starting from the first song off the record, “The Bureau”, Way showcases his abilities to write simple yet memorable lyrics and perform them using sounds ranging from distorted guitars to telephone beeps. Despite the record’s heavy emphasis on the Britpop genre, songs such as “No Shows” and “Brother” make use of vocals similar to those of Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie while the song “How It’s Going To Be” is reminiscent of songs like “Some Nights” by Fun. However, the songs “Action Cat” and “Maya the Psychic” best embody Way’s change from MCR’s riff-heavy alternative rock sound to his imitation of 80’s style music by showcasing Way’s strong influence drawn from artists of the time period like David Bowie and The Stooges. But for the die-hard MCR fans, the songs “Zero Zero” and “Juarez” best imitate MCR’s style in their final studio album, Conventional Weapons.
Similar to the way that themes and concepts were presented in previous MCR albums such as The Black Parade and Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Hesitant Alien exhibits a futuristic yet retrograded flair. In the music videos, casts consist of quirky aliens and humans dressed in flashy clothing that look as if they came out of a Star Wars movie. And, unlike the emo-goth type of character presented in The Black Parade and the punk-like defiant character in Danger Days, Hesitant Alien features Way simply as himself – a man who feels alienated from the world around him (hence the title).
However, despite his new direction, the music videos of Hesitant Alien are artistically confusing, borderline trippy, and hardly suit the style of music presented in the album. They display video editing skills that would be referred to as futuristic…30 years ago. Lights intentionally flare, videos are low resolution and the audio is often out of sync. Still, although the overall quality of the music videos is a bit lacking, its purpose is to contribute to the trademark 80’s vibe presented in each song and videos themselves don’t detract from the impressiveness of the album as a whole.
Overall, Hesitant Alien is filled with a myriad of musical genres and mesmerizing lyrics and is a must for any fans of MCR or similar bands. Gerard’s new way has taken him in a positive direction, and we like where he’s going.
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Alan ke, a student at the International School of Beijing.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.