Gerard Way’s new record has been on everybody’s lips over the past few months, and even more so after his spectacular comeback shows at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth and at Reading and Leeds Festival. But does it live up to the high expectations of his very dedicated fanbase?
The record submerges you headfirst into Way’s new Britpop influenced sound with opening track ‘Bureau’. The scuzzy guitars and noisy feedback are far removed from his previous ventures, of which I will try not to mention too much. The reasoning for this being that Gerard Way and his awesome new band The Hormones have completely nailed the whole package of this new project; both the new sound and new look have been carefully thought through, right down to Way’s elegantly disheveled red ‘do.
The fuzz pedal is something that Way has always loved but never been able to fully utilise until now. On tracks such as ‘No Shows’ the guitars create a wall of fuzzy sound that is played against Way’s vocals, both taking centre stage in equal measures. ‘No Shows’ is the lead single from Hesitant Alien and it has already proved to be a crowd favourite from Way’s first live shows as a solo artist. You will find yourself humming the chorus days after hearing the track. Like much of the album I can already envisage crowds of thousands chanting ‘We don’t need no shows!’
A stand out track on the record is ‘Brother’. It is the closest we get to a piano ballad and it is a heartwarming tribute to Gerard Way’s younger brother, and ex MCR bandmate, Mikey Way. The steady drumbeat throughout keeps up the tempo and keeps the track in line with the rest of the record. Seeing this track played live was magical; the emotion from Way in every note he sang was truly heartwarming. As he proclaims ‘does anyone have the guts to shut me up?’ he is demonstrating the strength of the support he has received from Mikey Way throughout the tough times. It’s an ode to siblings across the world and is so beautifully executed through the simple lyrics and piano melody that it makes the hairs on your neck stand up.
Tracks such as ‘Millions’ exemplify how Hesitant Alien is in a completely different ballpark to any of the My Chemical Romance records. For example, the screeching feedback at the end of this track is a Britpop trait that Way has adapted into this record. The record isn’t simply a tribute to Blur or Suede – influences that Way has listed – it is a culmination of many influences from throughout Way’s 38 years on planet earth. ‘Zero Zero’ is another track that demonstrates the distance Way has come. The chorus is an instant hit: ‘Call me ZERO ZERO ZERO!’ will be screamed back at the artist at shows for years and years to come.
‘Juarez’ is raw, gritty and oh so noisy, whilst ‘Drugstore Perfume’ shows that Way still has a knack for a banging hook. After years of writing emotional hook after emotional hook for My Chemical Romance, these skills have transferred to Hesitant Alien in the best way possible. Way’s crooning vocals are a little fuzzy around the edges to go with the new genre, but the infectious hook and sing-a-long chorus give it all the oomph of an My Chemical Romance anthem. It’s a clear demonstration of how Way’s sound has matured to fit his peers and not only the younger people that are still mourning the band’s end.
‘How’s It Going To Be’ has a fabulous synth part towards the end of the track; it takes the tune from Way and runs with it until it is reunited with his vocals. Like many of the tracks on this record, it could be a single in it’s own right; the way in which Way’s vocals merge beautifully with the instrumentation means the track reaches dizzying heights towards its end.
Hesitant Alien is exactly what we needed from Way. I’m one of the lucky ones that absolutely adores Britpop as well as alt-Rock, meaning that Way, in every way (excuse the pun), whether it is fronting MCR or going solo on Hesitant Alien, captures my attention and has done for years and will continue to do so for years to come.
You can stream Hesitant Alien now on Soundcloud. The record is released on Monday 29th September on Warner Bros Records.