My Chemical Romance : Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys
Wow. Just wow. My Chemical Romance have changed. Happily, it’s absolutely for the better. Across their last two albums they’ve morphed from a slightly whiny emo-ish band (although, they were one of the better quality slightly whiny emo-ish bands around) into a full blown art-rock band. And it suits them to a tee.
Whether you love concept albums or hate them, it takes a band with vision, imagination and skill to craft a convincing one that’s replete with fully developed characters and narrative. MCR’s last album The Black Parade was an excellent attempt at a concept piece, and they’ve stepped it up again on Danger Days.
Here MDR tell the story of the four band members as an outlaw gang called ‘The Killjoys’, who are fighting against a corrupt corporation called ‘Better Living Industries’. They are guided along their way by a pirate DJ called Dr Death Defying (who actually only makes two or three appearances). If this sounds a little obscure or convoluted, it’s probably because it is; but it hardly matters as it’s heaps of fun, and MCR execute it down to a fine point.
When it’s all said and done, (and pardon the cliché), you can have the best storyline and characters in the world for your concept record, but if the actual songs themselves don’t cut the proverbial mustard, it matters none whatsoever. The songs on Danger Days are well written, ultra catchy and extremely varied. Over the course of the album they cover hard alternative rock, pop, punk, disco, electro, industrial and much more. Even the American national anthem gets a run, although they warp it severely at the end. And they pull each aspect off with admirable skill.
Crucially, one can flick to any track on this album and enjoy it as an individual tune, without having to hear it in the context of the storyline, and this is the key to any great concept album. Although, obviously, the experience is far richer when it’s heard in full, the way it was intended.
The short-sighted naysayers might proclaim the album as a dying art form as attention spans get shorter and the downloading of individual songs takes precedence. Well, My Chemical Romance are one of many bands who are extending their middle finger and saying ‘bollocks’ to that attitude. The complete album as an entertainment medium will be around for a bit longer if MCR have anything to say about it, and especially if they continue to produce works of this quality. And we say ‘amen’ to that.
Danger Days is simply an excellent rock album.