Album Review: Gerard Way—“Hesitant Alien”

By Rachel Chiong, Feature Photo via Gerard Way

Failing to mention My Chemical Romance when writing about Gerard Way’s album is incredibly difficult; because while My Chemical Romance’s music was an amalgam of genius from all the band members, Way was the mastermind. His career started with the raw and expressive I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, transitioning to Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, until the band established its iconic eyeliner and brass buttons for Black Parade. However, when Danger Days was released, mixed reviews flooded the band, since (thanks to Way) its style had veered off MCR’s niche. Now going solo, Way’s Ronald McDonald hair isn’t the only thing that seeped from Danger Days into Hesitant Aliens. Many tracks off the previous album (such as “S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W” and “Summertime”) sound like testers to the polished tracks on Hesitant Alien.

Way explains that he named the album Hesitant Alien, because he felt out of place in the whirlwind media that had swooped up MCR once its popularity took off. The album expresses this feeling in a more fantastical way. It narrates the life of a misplaced character, lurking in a city, which is built by dissonant chords, eerie guitar riffs, and melodic whirring that resonate (according to Way) a mix of grunge and Britpop. In this review, I will do my best to reiterate that meticulously-built world Way placed into my head and project it into your imagination.

Album Art for Hesitant Alien

Album art for Hesitant Alien

“Bureau” introduces the human alien trudging through the alley ways of the city. He gathers his followers with cultish lyrics, directed by the heavy marching riffs suffocated in synth and mindless humming. “Action Cat” thrusts the confused alien into a crowd, guitars and vocals surrounding him like the sea of people constantly colliding against him. There are more secluded places in this city, such as the cheap karaoke in “No Shows,” where the alien can wiggle freely to the tambourine beat. The disco ball orbits around the chorus of ‘ooo’s that are spread generously throughout the song, the primary colors making constellations on the peeling paint of the karaoke room. “Brother” is the city at dusk, mysterious and dusty like Mars, while “Juarez” (which is a personal favorite) feels like a track specifically written to drown out the city noise in its own customized clamor. “Zero Zero” is desperate. The wailing guitars grasp the dizzying and thrilling feeling of standing inches from the yellow striped edge of the subway tracks. “How It’s Going to Be” wraps the album up. The drums race like cars, sweeping the city under its arm and disappearing somewhere in the horizon of the civil twilight.

Despite the piercing imagery of Hesitant Alien, Way no doubt will lose fans, especially those who were anticipating the gloom and doom from Black Parade ever since Danger Days. But in the direction he is going, new fans are sure to join his army of ‘Wayliens.’ No longer does he simply sing about the feelings of the outcast and frustrated, but instead he creates a world for them in Hesitant Alien, a world so weird, yet eloquent, it is only one step from the real thing. (Warner Bros.)

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