Look alive, sunshine! Welcome to the final installment of the My Chemical Retrospective as we look at Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, the band’s final studio album.
This album is my everything. No exaggerations. It’s neon colored rainbows and shooting stars. Which I’m sure is a weird thing to hear when I used the words “doom and gloom” a lot in my previous retrospectives. Well, something that I think people tend to forget about My Chemical Romance is that they were a very hopeful band. They had a whole thing about inspiring people to stand for something, whether it be okay with standing out or moving forward in life.
Danger Days takes that side of My Chemical Romance and projects in full technicolor. No, really. Gone were the days of black marching band suits. They were replaced with brightly colored motorcycle jackets and modified NES zappers as ray guns.
And I don’t think I was happier with the band than I was when that happened.
You see, this album came out when I was in college, which was a big transition state for me where I was trying to figure out a lot of things. And here came this album that was big, loud, colorful, and hopeful that was all about creation. About being louder than those who would silence you. It was radical self-expression in practice before I even knew what that meant. I learned to sew because of this album and I still wear my Killjoy jacket out more often than I really should.
If you’re not aware, Danger Days was a concept album about a post apocalyptic future where creativity and self-expression is considered unlawful by a megacorporation called Better Living Industries. A group known as the Fabulous Killjoys live in the desert outside of the corporation’s homebase of Battery City (formerly Los Angeles) and fight against Better Living as they try to silence those living in the zones. The album itself is more like a pirate radio broadcast for the Killjoys. The music videos for ‘Na Na Na’ and ‘SING’ told one part of the story, and the comic book The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys picked up twelve years after the videos. Out of all the concepts that My Chemical Romance came up with for their albums, this one was easily the most realized.
As for the music itself, I don’t know how anyone can listen to this album and still call My Chemical Romance an “emo band.” I don’t even consider The Black Parade “emo,” but this album is all positivity and throwing bright paint on walls. Maybe it was the decision to go a little more punk on this go round (as seen in their cover of ‘Desolation Row’ for the Watchmen soundtrack and the abandoned Conventional Weapons album). Maybe it was the fact that between albums, a lot of the band got married and started having kids and the stories they told became less about living for yourself and learning to live for someone else. Either way, you can’t listen to Danger Days and tell me that nothing changed for the band.
It’s also fair to say that Danger Days has my favorite My Chemical Romance song ever: ‘Planetary (GO!)’ Oh my god, I LOVE that song so hard. Even when I’m not in a My Chemical Romance mood, I will put on ‘Planetary (GO!)’ on and be in an instant good mood. It would probably be my go-to karaoke song if a karaoke version existed. (If it does, please tell me now so I can stop singing ‘Teenagers’ and start singing that.) It’s the epitome of the albums positivity and motivational-ness and the fact it wasn’t a bigger song makes me so sad.
But not for long, because I’m usually listening to ‘Planetary (GO!)’ when I get sad.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a My Chemical Romance fan, you should really check out Danger Days. It’s an amazing album and I’m glad that it was the final album the band released. Because dammit, if you’re going to go out, go out on a high note.