New Jersey alt-rock band My Chemical Romance (aka MCR) took the world by storm with their 2006 concept album Welcome to the Black Parade, but it was their fourth studio album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2010), which stood out to me as a young rocker. The exciting world which the band created through the album’s brilliant tracklist, and it’s subsequent movie-style music videos, dragged me in and has never let me go.
Danger Days, as it’s more commonly known, displayed the true musical creativity and genius of Gerard Way (who later released a comic depicting further events of the album’s narrative) and the band through its post-apocalyptic plot that allows clever parallels to be created between the music and subsequent music videos. The narrative follows the lives of the “Killjoys”, a fictional group of rogues living in the expansive wasteland of a post-apocalyptic California. The album, introduced by DJ Dr. Death Defying (Steve Montano) through the opening track ‘Look Alive, Sunshine’, begins with a bang as we boldly become familiarized with the gang of rebels (portrayed in the music videos by the band themselves) who are fighting to bring down the evil corporation Better Living Industries and win back “The Girl”. ‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)’ is the best track to get the ball rolling, as the music instantly cuts from dialogue to fast-paced action rock as the Killjoys set out on their mission.
One of my favourite tracks from the album follows the excitement of these introductory moments, and goes deeper into the emotions and lives of the Killjoys. The track, entitled ‘Bulletproof Heart’, feels much softer than the other action-fuelled tracks, as Way sings “These pigs are after me, after you. Run away, like it was yesterday, when we could run away, run away from here” displaying the horror of the Danger Days world. ‘SING’ is a track that truly encapsulates the world of Danger Days. The song is an anthemic cry for change and twists MCR’s style in a unique and interesting way. The track has an awesome accompanying music video which shows the gang struggling but succeeding in saving many from the doom of Better Living Industries.
Although the whole album explores the world in a captivating way that draws you into wanting to listen to the tracks from start to finish, there are many stand out tracks; the melodic ‘Summertime’, the much heavier ‘Destroya’ and the electronic ‘Planetary (GO)’. It’s mad to think that in 2020, we have now reached the timeline ‘reality’ of the post-apocalyptic Danger Days world. Even though there are few obvious similarities between the world of the Killjoys and our world, it reminds you of our perceptions of the future – something we see in many films, such as Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Blade Runner (1982).
Danger Days is a perfect example of a concept album done in such a strong way that it draws you so far into the tracks and atmospheric narrative that you forget you’re actually listening to an album and not just being told a story. It will always remain one of those albums you can listen to from start to finish and retain your energy throughout.
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is available to listen to now via Reprise Records. Check out ‘Na Na Na’ down below.