Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

My Chemical Romance- Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
In the two years after New Jersey natives My Chemical Romance released their third album, 2006’s rock opera The Black Parade, all signs pointed toward a return-to-roots rock album being in the works as the follow-up.  The Black Parade b-sides, their cover of “Desolation Row”, and a pair of untitled bootlegs that made their way around the ‘Net indicated that the band was going back to the no-frills post-hardcore of their first two efforts.  And frontman Gerard Way told MTV, “I think there’s going to be [a] lack of concept . . . It’s not going to be hiding behind a veil of fiction or uniforms and makeup anymore. . . . People who were really big fans of our first record, they’ll find things they’re really going to love about the new material – and not because we sound like that first record at all, it’s because there’s a purity to it.  There’s less happening.”

Well, that lasted about ten seconds.

Not that Danger Days is a bad album by any means.  It is, however, the farthest thing from the album fans were expecting.  The punk and rock elements are still at the forefront, but a style completely new to MCR’s catalogue is put to use: synth-pop (I’d love to call it “synth-rock”, but the songs have more in common with the Killers than Pink Floyd).  And, despite the promise of a “lack of concept” this time around, the guys have punched out another collection of songs with similar themes.  It’s not a linear concept album, because a definite storyline can’t be found in the lyrics, but it’s impossible to deny that they’ve created a world which is supposed to be represented by the album.  The band uses its website, YouTube account, and a site for the fictitious “Better Living Industries” (symbolically abbreviated as “BL/ind.”) to flesh out its world; the foursome plays the role of the titular Fabulous Killjoys, a group of guys who chose to live in the desert outside Battery City, which is under BL/ind.’s control.
Pros:     The guys have released what they set out to make: an album that’s just all-around fun.   Other bands talk about capturing the energy of their performances on an album, but none have accomplished the task as well as MCR.  They’ve applied the classic- and arena-rock elements they first used sparingly in The Black Parade to an entire album; the songs sound enormous through the earbuds, and make you wonder how much better they’d be live.  Several songs are highlighted by unexpected guitar solos and vocal arrangements that keep the album from being classified as “predictable”.  Adding to that fact, the album features a number power ballads and bright mid-tempo songs – a noteworthy difference from the dark rockers the band’s built a career on, but everything feels surprisingly natural.
Cons:    Everything, except “Planetary (GO!).” Normally, the synth-tinged songs come across as standard fare because the synth doesn’t overtake the rest of the instruments, but this song could easily be mistaken for a release by any number of today’s pop divas.  And if you picked up this album expecting Tommy or The Wall, you’re going to be disappointed.  The world that the band’s created mainly exists in the Internet; there’s no story to be found in the lyrics.  Odd, then, that they chose to include an intro and two updates by Mindless Self Indulgence’s Steve, Righ? as “Dr. Death Defying”, who informs us that two of the Killjoys were taken out by an “exterminator,” and that, for some reason, he has to “start running.” The character works well in the opening track, but the album would’ve been far better off without the distracting interludes.
Partway into the initial recording sessions, My Chemical Romance decided to scrap the material they’d written up to that point and take a different direction with Black Parade’s follow-up.  The result: twelve songs (and three trips the Doctor) that prove the band’s ability to change both its style and image without feeling like a different artist.  Danger Days could be the start of a whole new era for My Chem, or it might be a one-time experiment; either way, it’s a great addition to their discography.

Collection: Various/Soundtrack

The List: #279
 ALBUM: Before You Were Punk
FORMAT: CD

The List: #280
ALBUM: Bluegrass Roots
FORMAT: CD 

The List: #275
ALBUM: Singles OST
FORMAT: CD

The List: #38
ALBUM: Drive-Thru Invasion Tour Compilation
FORMAT: CD

The List: #295
ALBUM: No Alternative
FORMAT: CD

The List: #20
ALBUM: Spider-Man 2 Soundtrack
FORMAT: CD

The List: #35
ALBUM: Once Soundtrack
FORMAT: CD

The List: #27
 ALBUM: Gift Wrapped! Stocking Stuffer
FORMAT: CD

The List: #363
ALBUM: Batman & Robin Soundtrack
FORMAT: CD

The List: #373
ALBUM: Freedom: Artists United for International Justice Mission
FORMAT: CD

The List: #382
ARTIST: Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson & Sigur RĂ³s
ALBUM: Angels of the Universe Soundtrack
FORMAT: CD

The List: #408
ALBUM: Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2
FORMAT: CD/DVD

The List: #447
ALBUM: What's Up Bro? Split
FORMAT: CD

The List: #449
ALBUM: Bad Scene, Everyone's Fault: Jawbreaker Tribute
FORMAT: CD

The List: #459
ALBUM: I Am Sam Soundtrack
FORMAT: CD

The List: #487
ALBUM: Judgement Night
FORMAT: CD

The List: #520
ARTIST: Wilbur Harden & John Coltrane
ALBUM: The Complete Savoy Sessions
FORMAT: CD

The List: #596
ALBUM: Angus Soundtrack
FORMAT: CD

The List: #644
ALBUM: Tony Hawk's American Wasteland Soundtrack
FORMAT: CD

The List: #757
ALBUM: Friends Again
FORMAT: CD


Collection: 1997

The List: #193
ALBUM: Since My House Burned Down I Now Own a Better View of the Rising Moon
FORMAT: CD

Collection: The Young Veins

The List: #161
ALBUM: Take a Vacation!
FORMAT: Digital

Collection: Yellowcard

The List: #336
ALBUM: Where We Stand
FORMAT: CD

The List: #92
ALBUM: The Underdog EP
FORMAT: CD

The List: #134
ALBUM: Ocean Avenue
FORMAT: CD

The List: #238
ALBUM: Lights and Sounds
FORMAT: CD
RATING: 78%

The List: #213
ALBUM: Paper Walls
FORMAT: Digital

The List: #90
ALBUM: When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
FORMAT: CD

The List: #334
ALBUM: Southern Air
FORMAT: CD

Collection: The Who


The List: #149
ALBUM: A Quick One
FORMAT: CD

The List: #131
ALBUM: Tommy
FORMAT: CD

The List: #249
ALBUM: Who's Next (Deluxe Edition)
FORMAT: Digital


The List: #56
ALBUM: Quadrophenia
FORMAT: CD

The List: #166
ALBUM: Endless Wire
FORMAT: CD/DVD