My Chemical Romance – “Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys”

My Chemical Romance have been going strong since the day they came together in 2001, and have been gaining a worldwide reputation ever since. Although not always a good reputation, the New Jersey band have never been deterred from doing what they do and love best, which is making music that stands out from the crowd and makes a statement. Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys marks the fifth studio album from My Chemical Romance, and it truly is unlike anything the band have produced before and shows that they are indeed shedding their skin of old and emerging with something literally a lot more bright and colourful.

The previous album from My Chemical Romance, The Black Parade, was the first concept album from the band and was met with a very mixed reception from audiences and critics alike. The Black Parade served a purpose of extending the bands creative ideas into something a lot more conceptual as the album followed somewhat of a storyline and a similar theme running throughout the album. But after a lot of bad press from British tabloids, My Chemical Romance were permanently fixed with a stigma they found increasingly hard to shake – one of an “emo” band promoting ritual suicides with a bleak outlook on life. Of course, none of this related back to anything the band intended to produce, but it still left a huge scar on the My Chemical Romance name that would be hard to cover up. Despite all this, though, My Chemical Romance have persevered and after ditching an entire albums worth of material because it “wasn’t right for them”, they have created something unlike anything they have created before.

To say that Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys is a concept album would be to totally undermine it. It is conceptual, yes, and there is somewhat of a storyline running through the album, but it also represents so much more than that. It represents a renewed confidence and a return to form for My Chemical Romance, with ideas and sounds that are fresh, funky, and feel totally different to how they were before. The concept behind the backdrop of Danger Days… comes primarily from an idea that Gerard Way had for a comic book series, and instead merged with new song ideas he had to become what is now their latest album. Danger Days… sees the members of My Chemical Romance transformed into mysterious characters collectively known as The Fabulous Killjoys – Gerard Way’s alter-ego is “Party Poison”, Frank Iero has become “Fun Ghoul”, Ray Toro is now “Jet-Star” and Michael Way is now known as “The Kobra Kid”. But what is the purpose of The Fabulous Killjoys? Led by their guide, the mysterious pirate radio DJ “Dr. Death Defying” (otherwise known as Steve Montano of Mindless Self Indulgence), The Killjoys race across the futuristic landscape of a 2019 version of California in their muscle cars taking out rival gangs of evil-doers in laser-gun battles and correcting their post-apocalyptic world. It all sounds like something out of a hugely colourful comic book, but that’s also what makes Danger Days… such an interesting concept and backdrop for an album. It’s like listening to the soundtrack of a science fiction comic book, which is precisely what Gerard Way and the rest of My Chemical Romance were going for!

After Dr. Death Defying introduces The Killjoys onto the album, the opener and first single off the album Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) immediately denotes a My Chemical Romance of an entirely different ilk and is a mass call-to-arms for any futuristic laser fighters out there, and is all about changing the world for the better with its refrain of “everybody wants to change the world but no-one wants to die”. Na Na Na is My Chemical Romance taking their sound back to a more authentic punk sound, and has a more legitimate taste of rock and roll to it than the band has previously had. After one listen, you can tell that this is not the same band as before!

Bulletproof Heart starts off by backtracking a little into some older My Chemical Romance sound, but then quickly switches to a bigger, ballsier sound, catching you off-guard a little and shows just how hard My Chemical Romance are trying to shake off their old stigma and grow into something sparkling and new. SING is a truly anthemic song the likes of which have only really been seen on Welcome to the Black Parade, but it’s moving choruses of “Sing it for the deaf, Sing it for the blind, Sing about everyone that you left behind. Sing it for the World” shows how My Chemical Romance have almost added an entire dimension to their songs that give a renewed air of legitimacy to their new sounds. Spacey, sci-fi synth sounds welcome in Planetary (GO!) and fits in very well with the science fiction backdrop of the whole album, and adds some bounce to the record with lyrics like “If my velocity starts to make you sweat then just don’t let go”. It’s easy to see from words like this how these songs fit in with the theme of racing across 2019 California in muscle cars with the volume turned way up!

Future single The Only Hope For Me Is You is possibly the only remaining shred of evidence on this record that the previous incarnations of My Chemical Romance ever existed, as there are definitely tinges of their older style in this dark, cinematic sound-scope of a song, but not enough for it to affect the rest of the album in the same way.

Following an intermission from Dr. Death Defying over Jet-Star and the Kobra Kid meeting their untimely demise, Party Poison cheers everyone up with some old school punk n’ roll with lines like “Ain’t a DJ gonna save my soul, I sold it long ago for Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which will obviously be very successful at getting hands clapping and feet moving at their future shows. S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W is a slow, melodic and oddly romantic number on this album, mixed in with some otherworldly sounds and words like “Never mind the shape I’m in – I’ll keep you safe tonight”. The same can also be said for the slightly more colourful Summertime, the two back to back creating a slower, romanticised bridge in the overall album.

DESTROYA introduces a different kind of groove to what My Chemical Romance have gone for on the rest of Danger Days… but that’s not to say that it’s no good. In fact, its deep grooves present an interesting change from what you’d expect and throw another curveball at you; such is the style of this album. The Kids From Yesterday could almost pass as an 80’s retro dance-synth song, coming more from a David Bowie influence than a punky, rock and roll one. After a final farewell from Dr. Death Defying, Vampire Money comes in with an explosive round off to the record with lyrics like “sparkle like Bowie in the morning sun” officialising the influence on the previous song. Either way, Danger Days… goes out with a massive bang, as a record of this style only ever could, with implied pictures of The Killjoys racing off into the sunset.

Overall, My Chemical Romance have worked hard to shake off any former reputations they might have had, and Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys goes a long way towards correcting any ideas people may already have about them, as it introduces something shiny and new into their world. It’s easy to picture the concept of Danger Days… as a comic book, or even as a short film, filled with colourful muscle cars, laser fights and mysterious heroes, and perhaps that could just be where this will take My Chemical Romance in the future.

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