My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
Back in 2006, if you were asked to name the one band that had the potential to bring out a concept album, My Chemical Romance probably wouldn’t have been among the names bandied around. Dismissed as an emo band like it was a stigma, that year's The Black Parade saw many people notice My Chemical Romance as a bonafide rock band for the first time, showcasing a more complex side of them that they long spoke about in interviews. In truth, that aspect had been around since the start if you looked hard enough – ‘The Ghost Of You’ gave early indications of their taste for the melodramatic – but emo was just too tempting a tag when the band’s first major hit was the emo-tastic ‘I’m Not OK (I Promise)’.
Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys sees the band again run with a concept; this time set in the near future and centred around a bunch of outlaws – the “Fabulous Killjoys” of the title – against the evil corporation Better Living Industries. In truth, the one disappointment with the concept is that it’s not run with as much as The Black Parade did, certainly not as far as the tracks are concerned. The videos for lead single ‘Na Na Na’ and ‘SING’ do focus on it, but really the only hint of the concept on the album is the occasional interludes with group leader DJ Dr Death Defying. However, when the end result is as entertaining as Danger Days is, you won’t end up giving two hoots about any concept - or the lack of it. This is about as close as My Chemical Romance will get to releasing a pop rock album with practically every track unashamedly aimed at stadiums; take ‘SING’ with its fist-pumping, singalong chorus or the power ballad melodrama of ‘The Only Hope For Me Is You’. Most importantly, the album sees the band letting loose after the dark tones of The Black Parade and the result is an album that, while it certainly lacks depth, is as thrillingly enjoyable a ride as any major 2010 release.
This isn't flawless, but there’s no doubt that the hits outscore the misses. If you thought ‘Na Na Na’ was as catchy as the band could get, think again. ‘Planetary (GO!)’ is a real showstopper thanks to its infectiously bouncy rhythm; while ‘Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back’ is as close to the album gets to old school MCR and comes equipped with the most impressive riffage. Despite all this though, ‘S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W’ threatens to run away with the whole album with its light, almost delicate, chorus backed up by dramatic guitars resulting in a track that promises to be absolutely huge when played live. There are missteps though: ‘Summertime’ is just a a touch too bland amid the bombast of the rest of the album; and ‘Bulletproof Heart’ aims for the epic but just falls short despite the best efforts of its thumping main hook. These aren’t unmitigated disasters though, but they are important to consider when judging it against the rest of 2010’s best. It’s not so much a case of the band becoming too over-indulgent but with the album stretching to around an hour, there could definitely have been some harsher cutting of a couple of tracks without leaving the listener short-changed.
If it’s subtlety, depth and meaning that you’re searching for in a rock album, then Danger Days is definitely not going to be for you. That’s not to say that the latter isn’t there, but it’s buried so far underneath layers of unadulterated OTT rock goodness that it’s hardly going to be the first thing you go looking for – or even care about. When My Chemical Romance make the demented grin return with the ridiculous, but superb, self-referential opening to ‘Vampire Money’, a wave of sadness passes over you because it’s almost all over. Thankfully, you can just press play and welcome DJ Dr. Death Defying and the Fabulous Killjoys back into your life; you’ll definitely want to – again and again.