After the iconic rock and roll run of My Chemical Romance’s career came to a sad end, fans were anxious to see where the talented members would go to next. As for ex-guitarist Frank Iero, he is the first to get back in the recording studio and bang out an unforgettable solo debut. Frnkiero andthe Cellabration’s Stomachaches is exactly what the music scene needs: raw punk rock filled with poetry and emotion. Playing every instrument on the record other than the drums, which were manned by ex-MCR touring drummer Jarrod Alexander, Iero uses heartfelt words and unique sounds to portray his life after My Chemical Romance and shows the world that his presence in music is here to stay.
One thing I will always love about Frank Iero is his way with words. Now with his songwriting skills front and center, Stomachaches showcases his passionate style while drawing focus on some irresistible melodies as well. There is nothing better than a lyrically and musically balanced album, and Stomachaches is just that. Especially after the split of MCR, Iero’s words are left with a lot of longing and yearning for solid relationships and acceptance. The album covers emotions of loss and regret in the jumpy, punk track “All I Want Is Nothing” (“I wasted time with a crooked spine / when I really should have spent my time with you”) and feelings of hurt and loneliness in the rustic “Where Do We Belong? Anywhere But Here” (“Someone I love threw me away”). Even the isolating words of “Stitches” are amplified with the deep and lingering tempo of instrumentals. These clever and interesting lyrics all follow a similar melancholy pattern on the record, but each one offers unique importance, giving each listener a favorite to relate to.
Stomachaches has its more adventurous and life-loving moments on the album as well. Again, Iero’s songwriting does a fantastic job of putting listeners right in the moment. “Blood Infections” is full of life as the sharp guitar riffs and speedy rhythm tell the story of influencing the person you love. Words like “I wanna take your hand, make you understand my side and our kind” put you right in the position of adventure and discovery. This romantic vibe is continued on “She’s the Prettiest Girl at the Party and She Can Prove It With a Solid Right Hook”. The intoxicating melody of the main guitar riffs floods the track with loveable energy and soothing hooks. This soft and romantic story is a flawless side of Frank Iero that isn’t shown often. The only other time this slower side of the instruments comes out is on “Stage 4 Fear of Trying”, which holds a more somber tone of self-doubt and lost hope. Nevertheless, the way that Iero dominates the lingering guitar on these tracks proves to be a highlight on Stomachaches without a doubt.
Frank Iero even gets more rebellious as the album powers on. The first single “Weighted” has a very strong presence on Stomachaches. Being everyone’s first impression of Frnkiero andthe Cellabration, it captures Frank’s general message perfectly. The chorus is filled with boisterous energy and encouraging words (“So let’s laugh, let’s learn to laugh at ourselves again”) that can rally up a punk rock revolution. Even the synth, staccato beats incorporated (thanks to Iero’s experience in Death Spells) in “Joyriding” crescendo into a crashing refrain to depict his classic rebellious tone. Iero often uses his previous work and style to influence his tracks on this album. “Smoke Rings” is the most unique off Stomachaches for its haunting, electronic elements that scatter the track. The chugging and dramatic beat of the refrain is catchy as hell, showcasing all of Frank Iero’s diverse talents and experiences making music.
When one door closes, another one opens, and Frank Iero wasted no time finding that open door. Stomachaches is the perfect fresh start for Iero, who has now proved to the world that he is much, much more than just a rhythm guitarist. He makes punk rock hectic, mellow, happy, sad, and exciting all at the same time while making each track a story to be read. This is certainly Frank Iero’s best work yet.