Sound — 8
In March 2013 My Chemical Romance announced their breakup, which in a lot of ways left the future of the members in question. Frank Iero is very solidly making his statement with this solo album that he's still around and isn't done. He plays all of the instruments on the album himself, except for drums which were played be fellow My Chemical Romance member, Jarrod Alexander. The album has 12 tracks and clocks in well under 40 minutes (with short songs, in true punk tradition). The lead single from the album, "Weighted," was released on August 4th. Frank Iero has currently put together a band to tour the album and will be taking part in the US Fall Tour of Taking Back Sunday and The Used.
The album opens up with "All I Want Is Nothing" with some guitar noise, and a simplistic drum beat that builds up to become a driving punk song. The lead single "Weighted" is up next, and is one of the longest songs on the album clocking in at just a little bit over 4 minutes. The sound of "Weighted" is almost reminiscent of My Chemical Romance's last studio album in style. "Blood Infections" has an interesting bass line that caught my interest pretty much immediately - as a large part of the song is carried by the bass and drums alone - and then goes on to utilize guitar to create a strong quiet/loud dynamic for the song. "…The Prettiest Girl…" is actually titled "She's the Prettiest Girl at the Party, and She Can Prove It with a Solid Right Hook." "…The Prettiest Girl…" is actually one of the saddest and most hopeless love songs I've ever listened to. "Stitches" is another track where the bassline is a strong component of the song, which you have to respect on a solo album coming from a guitarist. "Stitches" has an anxiety/disjointed feel to it, which fits along with the lyrical content nicely. "Joyriding" is another track that takes full advantage of using quiet/loud dynamics, and seems to (like several songs on the album) pull some inspiration from grunge music. "Stage 4 Fear of Trying" definitely has my favorite guitar part, and honestly reminded me that Frank Iero is a really solid guitarist. This song, more than any other on the album, seems like a well-crafted song by a talented singer-songwriter. "Tragician" is a pretty straight forward punk song. "Neverenders" is a high energy track, and once again you can tell that Frank Iero is definitely channeling his punk rock influences. "Smoke Rings" is one of the shorter songs on the album, and stands out in the way it briefly utilizes some electronica elements and the vocal style is much different than most of the album. "Guilttripping" is a pop punk song, and is catchy without sounding formulaic. "Where Do We Belong? Anywhere But Here" may be one of the saddest heartbreak songs I've ever heard. It is a very powerful song, nevertheless, and another track that seems to be heavily grunge influenced. The album as a whole has a very personal feel to it, which is a good thing for me. The mixing works well for the type of album this is. It isn't overly polished, though there is a touch too much compression at times.
Lyrics — 8
Frank Iero has historically provided backup vocals for My Chemical Romance, as well as providing lead vocals for Pencey Prep and Leathermouth and many other bands and projects. His vocals do a great job of expressing the emotions he's singing about, with more of a punk rock sneer than pretty vocals.
As a sample of the lyrics, from the lead single, "Weighted": "if we wait it may be too late/ we'll make everybody cry/ we wouldn't even have to try/ but if we stay we may overstay our allotted time and it just wouldn't feel right/ but I only speak the truth/ and I'll always bleed for you, so let's laugh/ let's learn to laugh at ourselves again/ and let's love, let's hate what our love makes us do/ if I try, I may have to try my entire life and that just doesn't sit right/ but if I fall flat on my face/ then may my bones break under my own weight." Pretty interesting lyrics, and fairly typical for the album which delves into personal subjects via surreal and abstract verbiage and imagery. Frank Iero has made all of the lyrics from his album available at his website, www.frank-iero.com.
Overall Impression — 7
I found myself enjoying this album fairly well, even though it isn't necessarily what I was initially hoping it was going to be. My favorite track would have to be "Stage 4 Fear of Trying," though I mostly enjoyed the entirety of the album. Another standout track was the closing track, "Where Do We Belong? Anywhere But Here." At the end of the day, Frank Iero made an album with a lot of personal subjects expressed in an interesting fashion and with music that is catchy without being formulaic or over-produced. This album won me over.