What would the world be like if we lived in a post apocalyptic comic book? My Chemical Romance answers that question with their album Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. The recording acts as a pirate radio broadcast, complete with traffic and weather reports thrown in. The music from this futuristic world is a lot like our own; it includes heavy guitars and synthesizers with beats you can dance to. The album is vastly different from My Chem’s past discography. They trade the distorted guitars for clean acoustic sounds. The band focuses on the ideas of freedom and authority, and how far is too far when it comes to expression.
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys centers on four main protagonists called The Killjoys. They live in a world controlled by Better Living Industries (BL/Ind.), an evil mega-corporation that wants to control as many people as possible.
But, there’s just one problem for BL/Ind. The Killjoys have The Girl, who is the key to saving the world. Together they live on the outskirts of the city, attacking in small numbers to avoid being captured. Dr. Death-Defying guides you through the album as a radio host. Each song teaches you about the struggles both the Killjoys and BL/Ind. face.
Tracks 1 through 7 set up the album, and immerse you in the Danger Days universe. “Look Alive, Sunshine” thrusts you into the world and you’re left to your own devices. It is similar to the seventh track, “Jet-Star and the Kobra Kid / Traffic Report,” in which it is only narrated by Dr. Death-Defying. “Look Alive, Sunshine” blends into “Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)” which is more energetic and lively. The song seems to be a call-to-arms to all the other Killjoys out there, and its soaring guitar solos and emphatic cymbals certainly can excite you. “Bulletproof Heart,” “Sing,” and “The Only Hope for Me Is You” have a different sound to them. They aren’t as upbeat as other tracks, and serve as an inside look at the Killjoy’s minds. All three songs have an acoustic sound, with gentle electronica and new-wave influences.
Tracks 8 through 15 introduce us to the climax of the album: the big fight between the Killjoys and BL/Ind. The battle is reminiscent of old gunslinger movies with its exaggerated feelings and actions. Fast, loud and aggressive tracks like “Party Poison”, “DESTROYA” and “Vampire Money” all pack a punch. With quick lines like “Hair back/collar up/jet black/so cool!/Sing it like the kids that are mean to you (c’mon)!”, it’s hard not to crack a smile at the band’s witty songwriting. Other songs like “S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W” and “Summertime” are very calming and light. The tracks are raw and real, and introduce a new side of the characters. The songs introduce a more humane side, a side that cares about family and friends. Our story ends with “Goodnite, Dr. Death.” The once loud radio host feels empty and shallow as he says goodbye, but you can’t help feeling like there’s more to the Killjoy legacy. After that, it seems like the band didn’t want to leave you on a sad note. This brings us to “Vampire Money.” A rather unique track, it is the band’s response to being asked to write a song for the movie Twilight. From Gerard Way’s mocking tone as he sings, we can guess that they didn’t take the offer.
When it was released, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys hit Number One on both the US Billboard Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts. It also reached Number Eight on the Billboard 200. The album went gold in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Ireland.In total, the album sold over a million copies worldwide. It was generally reviewed well, and most critics could not believe that it was in fact the same band who wrote the emo anthem “I’m Not Okay (I Promise).”
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is an album that has its fair share of single-worthy tracks and slow dances. The variety within the album is unforgettable, the arrangements are interesting and new, and the vocals are emotional and portray the story perfectly. My Chemical Romance proves that they are indeed a versatile band, seemingly changing from angsty heavy metal in 2006’s The Black Parade to meaningful acoustic ballads in Danger Days. In “Look Alive, Sunshine,” Dr. Death-Defying describes the album perfectly: “Louder than God’s revolver and twice as shiny.” Simply put, the album is a must have for fans of Bowie, The Beatles f, punk, Metallica, and many more.