Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way once had the world at his feet. At the height of fame, he was deemed an emo cult leader, a pin-up star for the alternative teenager and a symbol of teenage angst; shaking off this title was never going to be easy. And when My Chemical Romance split in the early months of 2013, many questioned what was next for the singer, anticipating his eventual return to music.
Now in his late 30’s, Way is venturing down the path of a solo career with his new album Hesitant Alien. Gone are the days of black army jackets and thick eyeliner; he now boasts a Bowie-esque style, complete with flaming red hair and a fresh, exciting sound derived from the bands that inspired him growing up.
The first track on the album ‘Bureau’ acts as an intro, whereas riff fuelled ‘Get The Gang Together’ and ‘Action Cat’ bear the familiar sing-a-long feel that My Chemical Romances fans both know and love; you can almost hear the crowds singing along in a jam-packed arena. Ways voice reverberates between the prominent guitars and heavy dousing of distortion and feedback on tracks such as ‘Juarez’ and ‘Zero Zero’ echoes the style of his previous musical endeavour. The less gnarled ‘Drugstore Perfume’ stands out as being the calm within the storm, its lyrical content mimicking that of the despondent songs his career was built on. Despite all of this, a distinct Britpop energy is still apparent, especially in ‘Brother’ which utilizes an upright piano and a punchy, vibrant drum beat.
The album ends strong with ‘Maya the Physic’, in which he sings “I’m with you/You’re never facing them alone again/We’re taking the sound back with us”. Way is rallying up his new troops, forming a fresh army of followers and ultimately flourishing post-band with an album that looks set to succeed. Losing the emo idol status has never sounded so good.