There's good reason to consider My Chemical Romance the most suspicious band in modern rock.
They display all the outward signs of the preening pop puppets – the impeccable styling, the corporate sheen, the teen-friendly pop-chant choruses. They shift shape freely as their demographic ages with them: from emo anti-heroes in 2004 (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge) to quasi-goth monochrome miserablists in 2006 (The Black Parade) to the post- apocalyptic skater punks we find striking heroic poses in deserts in the artwork of this fourth studio album.
Gerard Way sings about taking drugs and swears like Frankie Boyle on a song entitled – with tongue barely touching cheek – NaNaNa(NaNaNaNaNaNa Na Na Na). On paper, MCR are tantamount to a ‘dangerous’ McFly. But then, on paper, The Beatles were pop puppets for wearing Epstein’s suits in 1962. On paper, Bowie was a chart-chasing chancer for his futuro-sexual shape shifting throughout the glam years. And on record MCR are, in fact, a 2.0 update of the core rock tenets we hold dear.
Their pop metal periods revive the outré gloss of prime period Jovi while, alongside recent double sets from Green Day, their two concept records – the cancer-stricken Patient that inhabited The Black Parade and this album’s framework of radio DJ Dr Death Defying broadcasting to a 2019 rebel gang The Fabulous Killjoys roaming a dstopian world where art is illegal, a conceit almost comically similar to the plot of We Will Rock You – can lay claim to reinventing the 70s rock opera for the cyberspace generation.
In essence, MCR are hi-def traditionalists. And Danger Days sees them impressively expand their palate. On initial listens the record seems blown-out like a rusted speaker, as if producer Rob Cavallo has tried to counteract the dour pacing of The Black Parade by fuzzing up Ray Toro’s guitar into a virtual buzz-saw. But once the robotic Ramones sizzle clears, new horizons open up: the glam disco of Planetary (GO!), the Motor City punk of Party Poison and the shameless manband AOR of Bulletproof Heart and Sing.
It only takes a dazed spin through Pendulum-tinged anthem The Only Hope For Me Is You or the ballad S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W to realise that MCR are taking commercial rock deep off-road. “Slaughtermatic sounds,” as DJ Death Defying accurately describes it, “louder than God’s revolver and twice as shiny.”