After gaining a massive following for their addictive and dark brand of rock music, gothic appearance, and the youthful, rebellious mentality that goes with that emo lifestyle, My Chemical Romance turned their backs on it all. Gone are the days of singing about tragedy and revolution; the pale-faced, black-clad band that became renowned for the powerfully memorable and downright creepy “Helena” music video is no more. With the release of Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, Gerard Way and company traded that morbid type of artistry for a more engaging style that ultimately proves to be more fun as well. The Black Parade was the band’s crowning achievement because of its 1970’s classic rock feel, sweeping storyline and overall artistic vision and execution. But Danger Days manages to pull off the impossible, surpassing that rock masterpiece as a lighter album with more imagination, musicianship and all-around fun than anything in MCR’s discography. The band even created an entire science fiction story about post-apocalyptic California and alter egos for themselves as background for this pop punk sci-fi album, completing their transition from an emo band to a pure-bred rock ‘n’ roll group. Long-time fans of the band might miss the old emo influences and the angst-ridden musical style, but it’s hard to deny that My Chemical Romance’s progression as a band isn’t for the better after listening to this refreshing and creative work of art.
The aptly named “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” starts things off with a bang, administering an enjoyable rush of rock adrenaline. Right from the beginning, it’s remarkable how far My Chemical Romance has come from their days as a tormented emo band, as this upbeat opener reveals an energetic group lightheartedly singing about blowing up the world. This highly enjoyable anthem rock gem not only shows off Ray Toro and Frank Iero’s sprawling skills on the guitars, but it also serves as a rude awakening for fans wondering where the old MCR went. Between the rhythmic drumming, catchy guitar riffs, background vocals and Way’s recognizably heightened vocals, this opening song is a definite winner.
Although “Sing” is one of the album’s most amusing singles, the boisterous “Party Poison” deserves recognition as quite possibly the best track of Danger Days. The quirky but enjoyable elements of the record are at an all-time high here, ranging from the Japanese women in the background to Way’s continued use of juxtaposing references (i.e. explosives and entertainment). Ironically, this fist-pumping rock anthem is sure to get the listener dancing, which is the exact opposite of what Way and the Killjoys want as he threatens “This ain’t a party / Get off the dance floor / You want the get down / Here comes the gang war.”
“Summertime” mixes things up, offering a look at the Killjoys’ vulnerability in an upbeat but heartfelt ballad. Mikey Way provides a subtle but poignant bass line while the use of acoustic guitar sets the more somber mood. This isn’t the best or most dramatic ballad MCR has ever produced, but it’s a genuinely affecting track that adds more variety and depth to Danger Days.
The Black Parade deserves recognition for the phenomenal and revolutionary work that it was for My Chemical Romance at the time, but Danger Days is yet another lengthy rock masterpiece worthy of praise and admiration. Fans of Green Day, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, The Used, 30 Seconds To Mars and Escape The Fate are likely familiar with MCR at this point, but the only way to understand this album’s significance is to experience it for yourself. MCR shows true progression with this radically different work, refining the classic rock influences of their last record and redefining their sound to something more lighthearted and fun. In essence, Danger Days captures the carefree and resilient spirit of rock and roll and furthers the lasting legacy and impact of My Chemical Romance on the entire genre. It’s safe to say this band will never be the same, but unlike the doom those words bring when muttered about nearly every other band, My Chemical Romance’s future looks brighter than ever.
Final Score: 9.5/10
Rank: 1st (four total albums)
- Look Alive, Sunshine
- Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
- Bulletproof Heart
- Planetary (GO!)
- The Only Hope For Me Is You
- Jet-Star And The Kobra Kid/Traffic Report
- Party Poison
- Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back
- The Kids From Yesterday
- Goodnite, Mr. Death
- Vampire Money