Though he may forever be remembered as one of the titans of the early 2000’s emo scene, the former My Chemical Romance front man, Gerard Way, has certainly come to embrace his inner musical anglophile on his first solo outing, “Hesitant Alien.” While some traces of this somewhat overlooked side of Way’s influences have surfaced before, (the Smiths influenced “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville” from MCR’s debut album, as well as the Marc Bolan name dropping “Vampire Money” off of 2010’s “Danger Days” come to mind.) Way brings them out in full force from the very beginning here. “The Bureau,” the album’s opening track, chugs along with an eerie yet undeniably glamorous call to arms that hearkens back to the title track of David Bowie’s 1976 opus “Station to Station.” Much like “The Thin White Duke” himself, Way chisels out the persona of a disaffected space partier, who just happened to bring a personal mix of 90’s Britpop with him.
The album’s lead single, “No Shows,” certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on a Supergrass album circa 1997, nor would the wistfully bright “Brother” be incorrectly placed alongside some of Blur’s more parlor piano based chronicles of British social mundanity circa “Parklife” or “Modern Life is Rubbish.” Prior to the release of the album, Way had been growing more diverse and flamboyant as not only a performer, but as an artist as well; the garage-rock-in-space aesthetic of the album having far more in common with the hyperactive comic book grandeur of “Danger Days,” and being a very far cry from the violent, neo-noir thrash of MCR’s sophomore classic “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge.” Things do get heavier with the album’s closing trilogy of “Get the Gang Together,” “This is How it’s Going to be,” and “Maya the Psychic,” which do well to balance out the more mellow elements of the albums middle section.
Overall the album is a very strong first effort and does well to show Way’s versatility as a performer. His maturing artistry comes at a time when many of the fans of his earlier work are entering a different phase of life themselves, and as someone who was (and still is, really let’s be honest) a diehard My Chemical Romance fan, it is immensely comforting to see an artist I’ve admired for so many years progress beside me, and refuse to quietly fade away. While it is up to time to decide how memorable “Hesitant Alien” will be in the grand scheme of Way’s creative resume, the sneering rush of songs like “action Cat,” and the slow, crunching bass line of “Zero Zero,” certainly are very promising.