Gerard Way, ‘Hesitant Alien’ – Album Review
"Going glam" is a move many artists make when they're looking to reinvent themselves or when they just want to do something different. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way dives into the glam rock pool with his first solo effort, 'Hesitant Alien,' and he pulls it off with aplomb.
As is the case with everything Way does musically, 'Hesitant Alien' weaves together a theme, seemingly out of smaller themes. His lyrics don't tell a story so much as suggest a mood.
There are hints of coercion, angst and a strange enthusiasm that permeates all of the songs -- that enthusiasm seems odd amidst all of the lyrics that describe the hesitance in the album's title. If the hesitant alien is the main character in the loosely formed narrative of this album, one gets the impression that he's being held somewhat against his will, but he's not entirely unhappy about this.
Musically, 'Hesitant Alien' is grand in every respect. Each song is a densely orchestrated mini-drama that plays out in the catchiest way possible. The opening track, 'Bureau,' is puzzling until put into the context of the album's outer space theme. Plodding drums and guitars coalesce into a rock-solid backdrop for Way's emotional chanting.
Heart-thumping tracks like 'Action Cat' and 'Zero Zero' carry the album on their shoulders. They are full of layered fuzz guitars and distorted vocals, and give the album its retro-futuristic feel. Slower tracks, however, like 'Brother' and Drugstore Perfume,' while strong on their own, come off weak in the context of the album as a whole.
The most notable aspect of 'Hesitant Alien' is the fact that it's best taken in its entirety. In a time when bands seem more driven by singles than ever before, Way's first solo album stands out as being good from beginning to end, even with the low points included. The album is tied together by multiple factors -- from the ragged noises to the fuzzy guitars, and from the pulsing drums to the abstract lyrics, every element complements every other element.