A lot of times bands can be cagey about explaining their influences. It's like a magician who doesn't want to reveal their secrets for fear of spoiling the illusion. There's no such coyness on Hesitant Alien, the new solo record from once and forever (?) My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way.
Way's made no secret of his intentions to revisit the bands that influenced him the most during his formative years, many of whom have little in common with the sonic style of theatrical screamo his old band came to embody at the height of their popularity.
"I knew I would look at who my guitar heroes were in art school, Mary Timony and Carrie Brownstein, and I drew a lot of influence from shoegaze and Brit pop," he told Rolling Stone. The latter two genres are in ample supply on Hesitant Alien, with Way wearing his British guitar heroes' style proudly on his suede, or Suede, rather -- sleeve. Here are a few of the things you'll want to listen for on the album, streaming now.
While there is certainly more complex lyrical imagery throughout the record, and on "Action Cat" in particular -- "We want television bodies that we can’t keep/ We have battles in the dark when she falls asleep," for example, this track, evocative of The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Head On," ends with a simple question that will resonate with MCR fans everywhere: "Do you miss me? 'Cause I miss you" repeated over and over.
Spot-on Radiohead impression
While the album is littered with references to the Brit bands from the '70s through the '90s, "Juarez" finds Way and company working off of the corrosively gorgeous template of some of Radiohead's early work as the song devolves into "Just"-like guitar chaos, and Way introduces a tortured wailing that sounds more like Thom Yorke than anything from his Killjoy past.
Glam rock icons
MCR were no strangers to glam rock affectations, but never were they as crystal clear. On "Drugstore Perfume" he's as sharp and smart as a bespoke suit, with descending chord progressions that lead to wide, sweeping choruses that sound pulled straight from the Suede playbook, or, maybe David Bowie, which is where the former Brit rock band got all their tricks from anyway.
"Get The Gang Together"
It's not easy to stuff so many influences into one song and still pull it off well, but "Get The Gang Together" manages to do exactly that. It culls from all of the aforementioned bands but throws in some brash, riff grooves in the vein of T. Rex as filtered through Oasis-style sneering, with a Bowie-invoking saxophone and congo percussion. This is the type of stuff I wish Liam Gallagher was making now. (Please, Liam? Can't you try for me?)
My Chemical Nostalgia
This is decidedly not a MCR record, but if you're looking for the kind of strident verses that build to snare-pounding, impossibly shouty choruses, "Maya the Psychic" is the one for you.