Album Review: Gerard Way | Hesitant Alien

GW Hesitant Alien CoverOur Verdict: 3/5
Release date: 29th September
Find it on: Warner Bros. records
Review by: Cameron Millar

“An album incorporating elements from his old band as well as late 80s Britpop… Gerard Way’s collection of clever and interesting riffs ultimately leaves you wanting more than it delivers.”

When My Chemical Romance broke up in February 2013, the internet was filled with thousands upon thousands of blog posts and tweets from anguished and distressed fans. Here comes some comfort. Ex-MCR frontman and lead vocalist Gerard Way has released an album incorporating elements from his old band as well as late 80s Britpop. On Hesitant Alien he is joined by his former bandmate and brother Mikey Way on backing vocals and one-time MCR collaborator, drummer Jarrod Alexander. The album is packed with little hints and references to Danger Days and Conventional Weapons. Straight off the bat you can tell it’s heavily influenced by Gerard’s MCR contributions, reminiscent of songs like “The Only Hope for Me Is You” from the former, and “Ambulance” from the latter.

“Bureau” opens with a head-noddable tempo, discordant guitars and subtle background noises, like phone ringing tones, towards the end. It’s repetitive, but not in a bad way. The album swiftly moves on to “Action Cat”, with driving power chords and massive, noisy, echoey drums. Is Gerard referencing unrealistic expectations of beauty with the line “we want television bodies that we can keep”? It wouldn’t be surprising considering his cynical take on a lot of popular culture. There are also lots of references to “missing”. Could this be a tribute to his fans or has he been missing the music industry?

“No Shows” is where Gerard’s obsession with Britpop really kicks in – the video is a direct reference to shows like Top of the Pops and Old Grey Whistle Test but with a sci-fi twist under the name Pink Station Zero, complete with intentionally dated lighting and camera effects. The song has an oddly jarring key-change that might appeal to some… but not to me.

“Brother” takes the pounding piano chords and sentimental and sombre yet self-righteous lyrics directly from The Black Parade, but without the influence of the other members marching behind him. “Zero Zero” starts industrial with a Bloc Party-style guitar riff. The song sounds angry at times, getting its message across in traditional doom and gloom style, which should, again, feel familiar to fans returning to Gerard’s music.

“Juarez” has Gerard describing himself as the “heavy metal master”, treading a thin line between pop-rock and deeper, heavier post-hardcore. The song has an attitude, aspiring to stir up the more disaffected teens in his audience.

In contrast, “Drugstore Perfume” starts with a psychedelic swirl that metamorphoses into a stadium anthem that should be a cue for crowds to reach for their phones and lighters. The song slows down again towards the end and smoothly transitions into “Get the Gang Together” which returns to Britpop, with parts sounding like Blur, Elastica and even Sleeper.

“How’s It Going To Be” seems like a bit of a mess, its skipping rhythm is jarring and is in conflict with the rest of the album. Definitely a low point. It seems like a disposable pop track rather than Way’s usual troubled, sardonic opinion on the world. He picks it up slightly with “Maya the Psychic”. It’s certainly an improvement on the previous track but it’s nothing special. It’s lacklustre and leaves you wanting more than it delivers. Not the way to end the album

Gerard Way delivers a collection of clever and interesting riffs but towards the end fails to deliver and seems to be hesitant to give the spark of the first eight tracks to the last three. Almost alienating in fact.

Hesitant Alien is out now on Warner Bros. records.

Way will play the following UK live dates during November:

Nov 05th: Manchester Ritz
Nov 06th: Oxford O2 Academy
Nov 07th: Glasgow O2 ABC
Nov 08th: Cardiff Y Plas
Nov 10th: London Koko

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Gerard Way releases new Hesitant Alien album details


Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way has revealed further details of his debut solo LP.

Hesitant Alien is due for release via Warner Bros. records on the 30th of September.

Speaking of the imminent release, Way said: “My intention was to make 100 percent uncompromised art, using the currently least radio-friendly instrument, the guitar. I knew there would be lots of fuzz pedals. I knew I would play Fender instruments. I knew I would look at who my guitar heroes were in art school, Mary Timony and Carrie Brownstein, and I drew a lot of influence from shoe-gaze and Britpop. I want the record to sonically galvanize people.”

“I looked to the Britpop poets like Jarvis Cocker and Damon Albarn, drawing upon every day life,” he continued. “I also experimented with the abstract, and looked at Frank Black’s work both with the Pixies, and as a solo artist. There was no concept and no call-to-arms.”

The tracklisting for Hesitant Alien is:

1. “Bureau”
2. “Action Cat”
3. “No Shows”
4. “Casting Shadows”
5. “Millions”
6. “Zero Zero”
7. “Juarez”
8. “Drugstore Perfume”
9. “Get The Gang Together”
10. “How’s It Going To Be”
11. “Maya The Psychic”

Way will be playing sets at this years Reading & Leeds Festival, taking place between 22nd – 24th August. You can watch a teaser trailer for Hesitant Alien below:

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New music releases, 24th March 2014

New and notable releases this week, 24th March 2014:

Teeth Dreams - The Hold Steady
Teeth Dreams, The Hold Steady

Strangers, Simone Felice
Far Beyond Driven (20th Anniversary Edition), Pantera
May Death Never Stop You (The Greatest Hits), My Chemical Romance
Going Back Home, Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey
Escape From The Shadow Garden, Magnum
Live In Amsterdam, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa
The Classics, Tony Bennett
Shakira, Shakira
Supermodel, Foster The People
Miles At The Fillmore, Miles Davis
Gravitas, ASIA
Silver Rails, Jack Bruce
Blue Horizon, Wishbone Ash
Mess, Liars
Mastermind, Rick Ross

All of the above and many more are available via the Skin Back Alley Music Store.

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My Chemical Romance release new song

MCRMy Chemical Romance have unveiled a new song.

‘Fake Your Death’ was released yesterday as had previously been promised via the band’s Twitter account.

MCR announced that they were splitting up last March and have referred to the song as their ‘eulogy’. It will feature on their forthcoming greatest hits album, May Death Never Stop You, which is scheduled for release on 24th March.

Gerard Way, Mikey Way, Frank Iero and Ray Toro have said in a group statement: “The title is fitting, because as sad as it was to say goodbye to the band, we look at this collection as a celebration of our best songs, and hope the memory of them continues to bring joy to you all as they have for us. We hope you take the journey with us into MCR’s past, and enjoy the small taste of what might have been.”

May Death Never Stop You will be released both as a standard CD and in a Deluxe version which will also include DVD content. There will also be a Physical Deluxe edition including the CD, and a 180-gram vinyl two-LP set.

You can watch the trailer for the album – featuring ‘Fake Your Death’ – below:

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