Album Review: “Hesitant Alien” by Gerard Way
The eclectic front man of My Chemical Romance will always be remembered as the mastermind behind the band’s visual and musical revolutions. Despite the end of the era, his debut effort features the same aesthetics – sans the alter ego.
What else would you expect from this “The Umbrella Academy” comic book writer, but yet another revamp on his image? Hesitant Alien is his refusal to be known as “the front man of that alternative rock band”, but
to be known as who he is – Gerard Way – a man who still feels like an alien in this world.
Gone are the grand questions of existence, emphasis on lyrical content, and angst-ridden teenaged anthems. “Bureau” for example, had his vocals down to an almost incoherent babble of sound. Guitars take the center stage in this album – the jabbing and plucking sort – with catchy riffs and hooks that was sorely missing in the last My Chemical Romance effort (Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys).
Shedding off songs about mortality, careless independence and rock influences, the ex-front man bursts back into the music scene with a debut effort that pays homage to the man’s favourite genre, brit-pop.
Shot with a low-fi filter (the music video is square!) complete with trippy, old school effects, this number is definitely a blast from the past. Think dancing mimes, repetitive geometric shapes and very strangely transitioned video cuts of the 80s and 90s.
As much as we hate to draw parallels to his past, die-hard My Chemical Romance fans (dubbed “MCRmy”) can find solace and warmth in “Brother”, a track that is the closest to his old sound in this album. While the other songs are carefree, this number is heavier – a lament, if you would – that had a significantly slower tempo. The 37-year-old has also admitted to having extreme difficulties finishing the track with numerous attempts at shying away from having a grand chorus (his goal was to have the whole album sound like choruses).
However, “Juarez” remains the dark horse of Hesitant Alien. Sleazy vocal lines are stacked upon each other, like splashing paint on an empty canvas with paint of different viscosities. It’s really quite a cacophony but rather pleasing. It’s blasé, it’s messy, but the contrast in vocal lines – some slightly faster, some slightly slower – results in a rather interesting listen.
In essence, picture yourself walking into a vortex of sound that’s sometimes crystal clear, sometimes fuzzy and sometimes distorted. Throw in trippy disco lights and a sense of liberation, and you have a journey into Hesitant Alien.
However, while we don’t see Hesitant Alien topping the radio charts anytime soon, we wouldn’t be surprised if “Call me zero, zero, zero” – as heard in “Zero, Zero” – becomes a signature chant for him.
This solo effort also sees Gerard Way deviating himself from the alternative-rock band with nary a misstep. The memory of the killjoys will live on, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he builds himself a new army (with quite a few members from the MCRmy).
Get The Gang Together
How It’s Going To Be
Maya The Psychic