It is probably too early to say this, but based on little more than a really awesome trailer and a really long title, I'm going to declare that My Chemical Romance's Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is the perfect rock-and-roll album.
Am I being premature in saying this? Most definitely. Danger Days doesn't even have an official release date yet. Am I being hyperbolic? Absolutely. Aside from the few verses of (what I'm assuming) is a song called "Na Na Na" featured in the trailer, I haven't heard a note of what will be on the album. But none of that really matters. Because based on everything that has nothing to do with the actual music, this is already the most perfect rock record of 2010, and perhaps the most perfect in recent history.
And here's why.
It's no secret that I am a fan of ambition and insanity (both of which are why I liked the new Linkin Park album so much), and judging from what I've seen so far, Danger Days is both ambitious and insane, often at the same time. For proof of this, watch the trailer, which features an elaborately leotarded dude roller-skating down an abandoned stretch of California highway, voice-over work from someone named "Dr. Death Defying," a beat-up Trans Am, explosions, gratuitous use of DayGlo leather jackets (and bandanas) and the guys in My Chem choking out dudes in Dracula masks with Nintendo Power Gloves. And that's just in the 70 seconds. There's also the matter of Gerard Way's brand-new flame-red dye job, which sort of makes him look like one of Batman's arch-villains, or perhaps a 23rd-century version of Hayley Williams. Only more awesome.
Simply put, it is insane, a complete reimagining of MCR's entire aesthetic, which, up until this point, had involved mainly black clothing and face paint and was overwhelmingly morose. On Danger Days, they've tossed all that melodrama out the window (of a speeding Trans Am), embracing instead a delightfully brash, downright silly new spirit, one that recalls stuff like "Mad Max," the films of John Carpenter, pulpy, post-apocalyptic zombie flicks, the sartorial splendor of Evel Knievel and even, if one were to get heady about it, Michelangelo Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point."
But regardless of the pedigree of their influences (or lack thereof), the tongue, it would seem, is firmly planted in the cheek this time around, something that — for a band with a reputation as serious as My Chem's — is fairly new, not to mention fairly risky, considering a large portion of what has made them so appealing to their fanbase up to this point has pretty much been the opposite of all that. MCR have always explored the heavier themes — death and loss and sadness and ultimate salvation, to name just a few — and because of that, they've maintained a somewhat spiritual connection with their fans. They are the band whose songs have saved many a teenage life, after all. And now, they are practically cartoon characters — the Fabulous Killjoys, they call themselves — battling schlocky monsters and blasting NES Zappers in the desert. It's not hard to see why this new incarnation might alienate some or, at the very least, take some getting used to.
And then there's the matter of ambition, which the trailer gives us a taste of. Because despite Way's assertions to the contrary, this appears very much to be a concept record, about a band of outlaws (?) patrolling the barren expanses of California, supposedly in the near future, and definitely after some sort of catastrophic event (Nuclear annihilation? Robot holocaust? Both?). The album is called Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, for crying out loud. And while MCR have never shied away from getting conceptual, they appear to really have gone for it here. Whatever they've got cooked up, it is definitely ambitious, and, if the concept really is what I just explained, it ties in rather nicely to a comment Way made last year about the new album being a celebration of life as "an American rock-and-roll band" — only, in this case, they're playing an American rock-and-roll band in the dystopian, bombed-out future. Strangely, it works pretty well.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize that My Chemical Romance basically did everything in their power to make Danger Days the perfect rock album — at least, according to me. Shoot, they practically followed the checklist. Concept records? I love those things. Batch of tunes scrapped because they were reportedly too out there to ever see the light of day? I wrote an entire column about that very topic two years ago. Inter-band strife that led to the departure of a key member (in this case, drummer Bob Bryar)? Boy, sounds like a Pinkerton Effect album to me. Simply put, they couldn't have planned this any better if they'd tried. Danger Days is practically tailor-made for me. No wonder I think it's perfect.
Of course, I realize you are not me. But I don't think it's that much of a stretch to say that, if you're not excited for Danger Days, you're probably not a rock-and-roll fan. It is everything you could ask for in a major-label rock album — ambitious and crazy and downright inspiring in its own decidedly weird way — from a band that is fast becoming truly great. Will it all work? Will MCR's fans come along for the ride? That's just part of what makes this whole process so exciting. But, ultimately, that's really not what's important, because everything leading up to this moment has been so good, so incredibly spot-on, that I'm already sold. I don't even need to hear another note to declare Danger Days the most perfect rock album of 2010. And if the music is any good, well, then it may just be the most perfect rock album ever made.
George Orwell once said the essence of being human "is that one does not seek perfection." But George Orwell doesn't know crap about rock-and-roll bands. Whether they were seeking it or not, My Chemical Romance may very well have stumbled on pure perfection this time out. They just had to put on tight leather pants and hunt down vampires in the desert to do it.
Will you follow My Chemical Romance in their new direction? Let us know in the comments!