Gerard Way has never been one for just settling with how things are. As the ex frontman of one of the decade’s biggest rock bands, My Chemical Romance, Way was continuously reinventing his band’s image, sound and message. The world first saw My Chem in the form of angsty punks straight out of New Jersey, before they re-evolved into a black-clad marching band who’s stage show took over the world, before they turned on their head yet again and became brighter than a fight in an art studio, smearing a trail of primary colours in their wake as they headlined the Reading and Leeds Festivals, and appeared on the cover of every rock magazine imaginable.
After the event that was My Chemical Romance’s demise, Gerard Way is no different. This time, he is unleashing upon the world his solo album, Hesitant Alien, which is as different again to anything he has ever done. Stating his influences are things he could never explore with his band are things like Britpop and Shoegaze, here is an album that encapsulates this perfectly, with added glam and copious amounts of his favourite instrument, the guitar.
Opening track The Bureau is a punchy, slow but effective start with sluggish, dirty guitars, a faster overlay and a tambourine. Meanwhile, Action Cat (the first song the world heard from Hesitant Alien) brings along an abuse of the fuzz pedal- Britpop influences are starting to show, and this song is a buoyant launch into an album that starts as it means to go on. In the way Action Cat introduces Britpop, No Shows brings the glam (see video for full effect). It is electric-y and charismatic, with a plethora of sound and instruments experimented with- and more distortion!
Enter a piano, and we’re on track four already; Brother features clear vocals and brings back memories of MCR era Gerard. This song takes a light approach to a step back from the fuzz and is a little more simple- it’s almost halfway between a happy jaunty track, and a ballad. Speeding through Millions which begins with an incredible screams, this track shows Way hasn’t lost his knack for penning interesting lyrics; ‘I’m twisting fate, you’ll live alone or crazy great’. Which brings us to Zero Zero. Immersed in bass and drums, with the most distortion yet (it’s impossible not to mention it), the chorus is glittery and incredibly indelible, with plenty of echoes and ‘oh-oh’s.
Upping the pace is Juarez (imagine the intro to Nirvana’s Territorial Pissings but slower and less offensive and you’ll be halfway there). We’re in proper ballad territory with Drugstore Perfume, which is definitely the reflective track of the album. Get The Gang Together and How It’s Going To Be bring the pace back before the end (especially the latter, try and not be in a good mood when you listen to it). Maya The Psychic, containing lyrics about dreamers, believers, clairvoyants and hearing voices; bringing all of the elements into one song- fuzz, tambourines, distorted vocals, clean vocals- is a fitting and fun end to the album.
Glamorous, ostentatious, yet grungy and fuzzy all rolled into one rock record- a brilliant solo effort from a colourful man who once shaped the landscape of rock with his band and is now redecorating the landscape by himself. Hesitant Alien is nothing less than fabulous. To quote Way’s own lyrics in Action Cat ‘did you miss me?’ Yes Gerard, we did miss you. It’s good to have you back.