Gerard Way, ex-lead singer of My Chemical Romance, has made it very clear in the past few months that he is ready to move on in his career. After announcing his first solo debut, Hesitant Alien, and speaking out about his take on the band’s break up, this album is Gerard Way’s fresh start. Immediately when MCR fans tune into this record, they can easily hold tight to elements that resemble the good old days of MCR, especially Danger Days. However, Way has no trouble distinguishing this sound as his own friendly and fun introduction to the music world.
The opening of Hesitant Alien is excitingly strong and memorable. “The Bureau” is actually one of the best tracks on the album, which can be a good or bad thing, considering it’s the introductory track. The hook-heavy riffs and anticipation give listeners a taste of what Gerard Way thrives in on this record. This grungy, upbeat punk sound only makes appearances here or there on the record, which makes the listener appreciate and want it more.
“Zero Zero” has a similar pounding drumbeat and sharp, lingering guitar riffs to give it edge. Gerard’s static-sounding vocals spit out rough words like “Give me some sort of disease, oh give me teenage razors” to amplify the rebellious tone. Even the track “Juarez” has thrashing, chaotic tiffs and instrumentals to show off Gerard’s punk rock potential. However, this style wasn’t always flawless. “Get The Gang Together” had quite an exciting guitar groove and rhythmic chorus, but little details like the falsetto background vocals threw off the intention of the song.
This isn’t the only time Gerard throws listeners a curve ball. “How It’s Going To Be” begins as a fun, upbeat track, but transforms into an odd and surprising synth-based instrument solo. It’s a dramatic twist on the album that is hard to see coming or comprehend, but overall doesn’t compliment the album very well. Nevertheless, these happy-go-lucky tracks are plentiful on Hesitant Alien. “Action Cat” and “No Shows” were the first two singles to be released by Way, and certainly give a true first impression of the record. They have really poppy and catchy sounds that coincide with a retro rock groove, making Gerard’s technique clearly unique. “No Shows” in particular has smooth melodies and powerful energy to make it stand out, but this style does not have the same strength as the more rare, harder sounds mentioned before.
Even so, there are some incredible songwriting moments. The piano integration in “Brother” gives it the dreamy sound it needs to be one of the highlights on Hesitant Alien, as well as the relatable and heartfelt lyrics (“The lights we chase / The nights we steal / The things that we take / To make us feel this”). Even “Drugstore Perfume”, the slow and romantic ballad of the album, highlights the retro rock idea, as it tells the story of an adored, mysterious woman with words like, “She can’t change for love / And she explains how long she’s waited for / She wanted more.”
Even when the album concludes with “Maya The Psychic”, it supplements all aspects of Hesitant Alien. The general sound is cheery and friendly, but the excitement of the chorus is much more punk, showing off Gerard Way’s versatility. It even is lyrically the epitome of Gerard Way’s (and once My Chemical Romance’s) true message of resilience and hope (“But I’m with you / You’re never facing them alone again”).
For Gerard Way’s first formal step out in the music industry alone, Hesitant Alien is a great way to start. His unique ideas are so fresh to the music scene, although some are not relevant for a reason. Overall, the impact of his debut solo album has warmed the hearts broken by the split of My Chemical Romance and enhanced the idea of change and rebirth in alternative music.