REVIEW: Gerard Way – “Hesitant Alien”
Whenever a frontman goes solo, there’s always a bit of hesitation from me. After My Chemical Romance seemed to peter out, Gerard Way has reemerged with his debut solo album, “Hesitant Alien”. Overall, it sounds like the gritty, kinda-glam side project that Gerard Way never had. This is definitely his own unique animal, and it takes his creativity in a new direction altogether. With this album, a newly-redheaded Way puts himself alone in the spotlight, looking a little bit like Gary Numan on the cover. That’s not terribly off putting, especially given the sound of the album. In fact, it almost fits it perfectly, giving you the idea of where Way was going when writing this album.
Musically, there are spots of brilliance all over this album. “The Bureau” lets you know right away that you are definitely not listening to My Chemical Romance, and that’s okay. It sort of minimalist, getting away from the sometimes grandiose sound of MCR, and more focused on just straight up rock and roll. A great precursor to the rest of the album.
Other tracks take on a life of their own, as well. On name alone, “Action Cat” sounds like it was born from purely internet references, but the song carries much of it’s own personality. “No Shows” is the clear standout single. There’s no denying that, with it’s trudging, bouncing rhythm, and a memorable chorus over the top.
“Brother” sounds most like it could be a My Chemical Romance song, but in reality, this is Way’s signature piano-driven song; anthemic calls out to the world to see if anyone is really listening (The second verse begins with “Does anyone have the guts to shut me up?”).
Before you know it, you’re halfway into this album, and nothing is skip-worthy.
“Juarez” might as well be the score for an action movie chase scene, or at the very least, have a Wayne Isham-directed music video to go with it. It would be very fitting. Then the album kind of flounders a little bit; “Drugstore Perfume” and “Get The Gang Together” are nothing spectacular, but they don’t detract from the album, either. Closer “Maya The Psychic” is one last kick from Way, ensuring that he finishes the album with a bang.
At first inclination, I thought that I might be hearing a quality batch of MCR throwaways (because why not repurpose that unheard material?), but that is definitely not the case. “Hesitant Alien” is definitively a “solo project” – derivative of solo acts like Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson in the 80s. Way said himself that there was a lot of influence from 80s new wave artists, and to be honest, the album doesn’t really carry that sound entirely, but it pops up in songs here and there. There’s even a rogue saxaphone that makes it’s way into “Get The Gang Together”; surely something you wouldn’t hear on releases from Way’s former band. All in all, this is Gerard Way, solo, doing what he wants with his record.
I had no issues with hitting repeat after the first listen. It’s enjoyable from start to finish. It doesn’t have all of the gusto that we’ve come to expect from My Chemical Romance, but this album is very much it’s own creation. Listen for yourself below: