My Chemical Romance Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys Review

Released 2010.  

BBC Review

The New Jersey rockers combine elements of the past to create something truly unique.

Mike Haydock 2010

When My Chemical Romance said they wanted their fourth album to be a stripped-down affair, warning sirens went off. You could imagine the huge choruses of their previous albums gone smudgy and restrained, sucked of life. For a band that has always prided itself on histrionics, on passion, on creating a show, it was an unnerving proposition. Would they become the latest thrilling punk band to drift helplessly towards the middle of the road?

Fortunately, what My Chemical Romance meant by "stripped-down" was getting back to the basics of what they love about making music. And you can understand why they wanted to. Perhaps when they were knee-deep in the controversy they faced while promoting The Black Parade – especially in this country, where they were accused of being behind an "emo cult" that glamorised suicide – perhaps they decided they’d had enough of all the posturing, all the judgement, and focusing on the music again was the only way to escape the madness.

Danger Days is the result: a fiendishly entertaining, brash and intelligent record that is shaped by the music they love: Queen, Green Day, Black Flag, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure… even Bon bloody Jovi. All classic influences, all bleeding together in an album that does that rare thing: combining the past to create something new, rubber-stamped with My Chemical Romance’s unique vision.

This is an album of ambition and contrasts. For every fuzzy punk blur (Na Na Na, Party Poison, Vampire Money) there is a monumental, stadium-pleasing, hair-raising rock anthem (SING, S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W) that will get thousands of hands lifted into the air and voices singing in unison. There are synths and electronic bleeps (Planetary (GO!), The Kids from Yesterday), a shimmering pop song that Robert Smith would be proud of (Summertime), and one of the band’s heaviest tracks to date (DESTROYA). Everything sounds fresh and reinvigorated. It sounds like it was fun to make.

My Chemical Romance have marked themselves out from their contemporaries with this release by being prepared to take risks, and by pulling it off. This is a band that never rests on its laurels, a band that embraces new ideas but also knows how to write killer choruses. The worry was that this record would turn out dull; the reality blows that concern out of the water.

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