Close Encounters of the Loud Kind
2 Out Of 5 Stars
In his first album since breaking up My Chemical Romance, front-man and comic book fanatic Gerard Way jettisons the rock opera confines of "The Black Parade" and "Danger Days" and floods "Hesitant Alien" with fuzzed out guitars, touches of glam rock and his considerable skill at big, meaty hooks. Problem is, things sound like maybe writing big songs with theater in mind might have been a bigger skill than he wanted to own up to. The songs on "Hesitant Alien" distort madly and bleed into each other with a sort of wall of noise monotony.
There are a couple of good songs here that cut through the mix. Both "No Shows" and "Action Cat" favor speed over noise, and comes close to Sweet in terms of Brit-Glam. "No Shows" has a pretty insistent hook. The only other song of note is the speed demon "Juarez," making Way sound like he had some old Pixies CD's mixed in with pop opera aspirations, but I get the feeling all across "Hesitant Alien" that Way is stretching himself too thin. The songs have plenty of sing-along moments when he stops screaming into a distortion pedal, and you keep waiting for that one big number to emerge, ala "Sing," "Helena" or "The Black Parade." Just never happens.
And I'll add one more thing: The album has a horrible mix. On some of the songs, things are so compressed that Way's voice is just another sound crammed in the mush. "Zero Zero" might even had been the big song that "Hesitant Alien" needed, but the production is so bricked out that there's no breathing room for any element of the song to stand out above the others. Same goes for better than half the album. Of all the CD's I've bought recently, the only album to come close to production this bad has been the flat-line of Imagine Dragons' debut. "Hesitant Alien" desperately needed some light between the cracks.