‘Hesitant Alien’ Initial Review

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I am a huge My Chemical Romance fan. I enjoy all of their albums, (except for maybe their VERY first one, under Eyeball Records), even the one that changed their sound dramatically. It still worked. It was still My Chemical Romance.

Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is a beautifully depressing album. Borderline concept album, it starts strong, and has a heavy finish.
4 out of 5 stars.

The Black Parade took everything that was a little wrong with Three Cheers, and fixes it for the better. This time it is a concept album, following a cancer patient as his life flashes through his eyes before death. Even the songs I used to skip are songs I now love. Great album through and through.
5 out of 5 stars.

Danger Days; The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys was a step in an entirely new direction. So it was fresh, but it contained some of same hardcore elements from the previous albums, leaving out the sort of Gothic vibe from before. Great album, great lyrics, great back-story… like The Black Parade, any songs I used to skip (and there was only one) are now integral parts of the Danger Days experience.
5 out of 5 stars.

Conventional Weapons was a complication of previously unreleased music from between the release of Black Parade and Danger Days. Great music that combines the vibes of both of those albums, put together in a way that fits and doesn’t feel choppy at all.
4 and a half out of 5 stars.

My Chemical Romance broke up in 2013, much to the sadness of myself, and many others. I bought their compilation album that had another previously unreleased track on it, ‘Fake Your Death’, that, I won’t lie, made me cry. Even now, thinking of it, my eyes get wet.
So MCR is a touchy subject for me. They are probably closer to my heart than Fall Out Boy, so I find it hard to say anything bad about any of the members or albums.

So when I heard Gerard Way, the lead singer, was going solo and was releasing his own album, titled ‘Hesitant Alien’, I got excited. More music from the same voice as MCR, I thought;

“Maybe if I close my eyes it’ll sound like My Chemical Romance’s fifth album.”

I carried this sediment around with me, waiting for the release. Gerard Way released the full album for streaming a couple of weeks ago, and the physical release came out today.

This is a review, song by song, as I listened to the album all the way through in-depth, for the first time. This is an initial review, because with multiple listens, my opinions can change drastically.
And this is MY personal opinion… as a long-term fan of MCR. Unlike some people, I wasn’t going to be belligerent and not listen to the album just because I miss My Chemical Romance. In fact, quite the opposite.
So let’s take a look, track by track, at Gerard Way’s ‘Hesitant Alien’.

1. Bureau

This is a strange beginning to the album. Weird beat, very distorted sounding. There was probably some ‘artsy’ reason for doing this, but it is downright unpleasant to listen too.
1 out of 5 stars, completely.

2. Action Cat

This song is great. Very fresh sounding, not much like MCR at all. It is obvious that Way is eager to shake off the sounds of MCR, and it mostly succeeds here. Although to fine tuned listeners, I could have possibly seen this being on MCR’s swan song album, Conventional Weapons.
4 out of 5 stars.

3. No Shows

Way’s vocals are VERY under powering here. Even more so then the previous tracks. And when you do hear his voice, the lyrics are rather slurred and jumbled. Now he has always been somewhat of a slurred singer, but his vocals were at least always upfront and obviously there, even if it was a bit hard to understand. But the further we go here, the more it becomes incomprehensible. Otherwise, the beat, sounds, and instruments are delightful.
3 out of 5 stars.

4. Brother

LOVE the intro. So far, the intros on this album have been good, always giving you high hopes for the rest of the song. Way’s vocal’s have cleared up a LOT. Very nice beat in the background, pleasant and light. For once, Way’s great vocal’s are actually coming through a bit.

A fourth way through the song, vocals get distorted a bit again, but I suspect it was the chorus, and it clears up. I enjoyed it though.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

5. Millions

Good guitar intro… drums follow soon after… easy to tap your foot too. Leads into vocals decently, but they are STILL underwhelming. About half-way through this album, I hope this doesn’t become a common theme. I enjoy Way’s voice, but the instruments are VERY overpowering. When he was with MCR, his vocals were very loud, brash, sometimes harsh. And although he was known to slur, you could easily hear him at least.
Here, the vocals fade into the background. Shame, too. I heard that his brother, Mikey Way, former bassist for MCR, did background vocals but I couldn’t distinguish them.
Overall, it’s nice, but a bit plain.
3 out of 5 stars.

6. Zero Zero

Once again, the intro is great! Drums are heavily featured, and the vocals are still incomprehensible, except for the occasional ‘Zero Zero’ making its way through. You know what, from now on, unless I say otherwise just assume the vocals are lacking.
There seems to be an echo effect going on, and I’m not liking that.
More than half-way through the song, with the drums dominating and the vocals barely on the back burner, it’s an okay albeit disappointing track.
2 out of 5 stars.

7. Juarez

Loving how the guitar and drums are working together. It seems like you can count on the intro being good just as much as you can count on the vocals lacking.
Although, the vocals do sound clearer, but fuzzy. Way may have thought the effect added something, but for God’s sake, I want to actually hear HIM and what the vocals are TRYING to say instead of some sound effect.
It gets nearly terrible near the end. Although, I can sense that perhaps the chorus MIGHT have been catchy if you could actually understand him.
2 out of 5 stars.

8. Drugstore Perfume

Intro is… interesting. A bit different, but it sounds promising. I hear a little acoustic guitar going on, and the vocals are still fuzzy but a little more upfront. I get a sort of psychedelic vibe from this.
It sounds pretty smooth, and the instrumentals are a lot more light than the other tracks.
This is the longest track on the album, at four minutes and forty-nine seconds, and it shows. It goes on a bit long, but maybe if he cut off the extra, say, forty seconds this would have been a bit better.
Once again, sounds like it would be catchy if I could understand him.
3 out of 5 stars.

9. Get the Gang Together

The previous song leads into this, and once again, nice intro a some electric sounds pulled in.
Way sounds… among everything else, almost bored. I don’t know what causes it to sound that way, so I won’t comment.
I do like the sound and beat of it, and I’m enjoying the background vocals.
This song feels like it was pieced together. It’s just weird.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

10. How’s It Going To Be

First of the last two songs. As I type this, I am still on the previous song, but I have high hopes for these final two.
Starts with a drum beat and a nice rhythm.

Ooooh! This is nice! Different vibe, and I’m enjoying how the drums are the main source of beat here.
Way does sound a little like he’s speaking through a robot voice changer, but I still enjoy everything else.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

11. Maya the Psychic

Final song. I’m conflicted on whether to be relieved or disappointed here, but here we go.
Good first impressions, like always. Just waiting for the song to kick fully into gear.
I am enjoying the use of the tambourine.
Eh… fades into mediocrity soon. Vocals ARE a bit cleaner through a good portion of the song, although it doesn’t help much now.
It is lacking the sort of fanfare I usually expect a finale to have, it just sounds like they could have easily put this song in the middle and there’d be no difference.
Still enjoying the tambourine.
It DOES come together nicely at the end… and it has a good finish. Sounds more like a final song at the very end.
I still wish the vocals were clearer.
3 out of 5 stars.

Alright. There is Hesitant Alien.
From what I read, Way was going for a sort of Britpop feel. I am not a connoisseur of Britpop so I cannot comment on that, or how it affects the album.
All I can do here… is offer the opinion of a hardcore MCR fan checking out Gerard Way’s solo album. So this does have an MCR fan perspective, whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.

First things first, if you casually enjoyed MCR, or were just into their big hits, this is NOT for you. Unless you are a fan of the aforementioned Britpop, do not think you are getting another My Chemical Romance album.
And for hardcore fans like me… as I said before, you cannot go into this with an MCR mentality. This is not My Chemical Romance, it doesn’t sound like My Chemical Romance. Gerard Way has shed the MCR sound, and whether successfully or not is up to you.
I do think hardcore fans of My Chemical Romance should go and give Gerard Way some support, and buy the album and take a listen. He’s delved into unfamiliar territory, and you have to give him props for even trying. And with our support, hopefully he can make the needed improvements, (like a better showcase of his VOICE), for his next album.

This isn’t an album you are going to find on the radio, I can almost guarantee that. So if you’re into that hipster mentality, go and eat your heart out.
This album is DEFINITELY worth the around thirty-five minutes of your time. Even if you just listen to it on Soundcloud, or Spotify, turn it on and give it a gander. It’s different, and you SHOULD try it. Even if it is just for the experience.

But overall…
here’s the final score.
This album would have been rated higher, if Way’s brilliant vocals were up front on the stage.
And this album would have been rated lower if the sounds, beats, and instrumentals weren’t so good.

Gerard Way’s first solo album, Hesitant Alien, gets a 3 out of 5 stars. It is a decent album, and certainly a different experience.
Any MCR fans should take a listen, and go buy the album to support Gerard in his first solo endeavor. You can find it on Amazon and iTunes.

  • And until next time… that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 11:17 AM

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