Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, My Chemical Romance return.
Their last album, 2010’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, marked a maximalist combination of some of their most accessible material with a dystopian storyline, and it would have been easy for MCR to return to their positions as pop rock extraordinaires. (This is a band that has only grown more prestigious and renowned with time; the sheer reaction towards My Chemical Romance’s twice-postponed reunion tour and the new post-Warped Tour festival When We Were Young suggests that the gap they left has not been filled. This is a band that thousands still look to, a relic of an era that never quite died out — it’s just transformed and evolved.)
And yet, it’s incredibly bold for My Chemical Romance to return with a song like “The Foundations of Decay,” to prove that they, too, have transformed and evolved. The band sounds genuinely rugged and weathered, trading in some of the contemporary sheen of their previous two records for a much more progressive rock style that puts them much closer to Coheed and Cambria and various other post-hardcore outfits than their fellow 2000s pop punk auteurs.
Gerard Way is, as always, an incredibly enthusiastic vocalist, and though his unmistakeable tenor returns, there’s something different about his vocal deliveries — overall, there’s a much smaller emphasis on communicating the drama of the song and a larger consideration of dynamics. He is no longer front and center the way he used to be; there’s a very acute level of distance and restraint that he employs, from the touch of echo on his vocal, to the messy, deliberately imperfect shouts throughout the bridge and outro. The band sounds loud, alive, and incredibly present, but they’re no longer the leaders of their fictional marching band — it’s just five people in a room, attempting to lift something from eight years of silence.
Essentially, this is the sound of a band that has indeed not released music together for a long time, and are clearly taking some of the pressure off themselves to be in the commercial spotlight that they earned throughout their 15 year career. It’s the sound of a band creating with what interests them, telling new stories that maybe aren’t intended to reach people the way they once did.
It would have been disappointing to hear them return with something hollow or shrugged off, or to hear them try and recapture the kitchen sink spirit of Welcome To The Black Parade as a strictly nostalgic play — instead, “The Foundations of Decay” is yet another delightful and surprising reinvention from the New Jersey storytellers, appropriately dark and anthemic, but musically wise and mature. Age has certainly treated My Chemical Romance well.
— Paolo Ragusa
UMI – “moonlit room”
As the release for her long-awaited debut inches closer, UMI is building anticipation with tracks like her latest. “moonlit room” is a dazed and dreamy slow burn from the artist, originally from Seattle but now busy expanding her repertoire recording in Los Angeles. One of the most intriguing things about UMI’s music is the way she takes her time — she builds room specifically for showing off her silky smooth vocal runs, letting the slow build plateau and take hold over the course of the track. — Mary Siroky
Remi Wolf – “Michael”
Remi Wolf’s debut full-length album, Juno, made a splash thanks to its hooky, summery fun. Even when it would turn bitter (“Liquor Store”) or depressive (“Grumpy Old Man”), a melodic bassline or synth lead would add so much sugar that you’d ask for another helping of medicine.
Her latest effort, “Micheal,” however, takes a different direction. Moody and brooding, the track has more in common with indie acts like Wednesday than with the funky pop of Juno. It’s curious, then, that the song serves as the lead single for a new deluxe edition of Juno. Regardless, the saturated drums and sticky, melancholic chorus make “Michael” a more than worthwhile listen. — Jonah Krueger
Bazzi – “Will It Ever Feel the Same?”
Bazzi only trickled out one solitary single last year, but for his first release of 2022, the crooner is back at his most vulnerable. On “Will It Ever Feel the Same?” the smooth-voiced singer bounces between worry, regret, grief and martyrdom as he finds himself adrift in the wake of a devastating break-up. “Now I need to know/ Will it ever feel the same?/ Say, I need to know/ Do the memories wash away?” he laments on the chorus over floating harmonies, leaving the question hanging in the air, ultimately unanswered. — Glenn Rowley