Reviewed by Meghan Player
Like any mid-to-late 20-something year old, it’s fair to say a fair part of my formative teenage years were defined by bands like The Used, AFI, Green Day and My Chemical Romance. Upon the news that the latter would be parting ways (no pun intended) I, like a majority of other MCR followers, have been waiting with bated breath to see what the contributing members would do next.
This week, it seems that all that anticipation is being led towards guitarist Frank Iero, and his debut solo album – Stomachaches. Released under the moniker, frnkiero andthe cellabration – the album treds unexpected ground, and is a worthy introduction to Iero’s latest musical endeavour.
All I Want Is Nothing brings the album to an abrupt beginning – a melodic punk rock tune with an upbeat pop sensibility. In simple terms, you will find yourself humming along, tapping your feet and launching yourself into a dance frenzy the minute you hear it.
First single: Weighted, encapsulates a lyrical simplicity that is so beautifully executed in terms of sound and style, it’ll instantly bring a smile to your face. It’s during this track however, that the first shreds of darkness seem to creep through, with Iero building on each verse and chorus, only to explode in a sea of noise (or in the case of the video, a sea of blood) for the finale.
Not to be outdone, Blood Infections – a personal favourite – embodies the punk rock roots that we’ve come to associate with Iero in the past. Once again, it’s those moments of darkness – where Iero seems to lose control, giving into the chaos of the track – that “highlight” the song; catching you off-guard and sweeping you up into their explosive melodies.
She’s The Prettiest Girl At The Party And She Can.. is the biggest surprise on the album – with the sound and melody moving in a completely different direction to its predecessors. Coupled with the ferocity of the previous tracks, the song feels undoubtedly haunting; with the Iero seemingly laying every emotion, every thought on the line.
Stitches is steeped in experimental sounds and vocal deliveries; almost eating away at the listeners psyche – whilst, most recent single Joyriding builds on the eclectic mix of sounds and styles, forming a diverse soundscape that embodies so many layers, it’s impossible to appreciate it all in one listen.
Undoubtedly, it’s when Stage 4 Fear of Trying rolls around that whatever shred of emotion you’ve built up in the previous tracks comes crashing down. There is something so profoundly honest about the track – the rawness, the simplicity, the vocal delivery – that absolutely kills me (in the most positive way possible); a true testament to the accessibility of the albums themes.
In a complete parallel, Tragician heralds the return of the in-your-face melody – whilst Neverenders continues the ferocity, albeit with a sound that drums up memories of Walk Like An Egyptian.
Guilttripping is the closest you’ll get to hearing any My Chemical Romance-esque sound on the album (think, Kill Your Friends), but it’s so effortlessly draped in Iero’s individuality, that the moments are only fleeting – allowing the track to become its own entity – before finale, Where Do We Belong? Anywhere But Here threatens to tug at your heartstrings once again, before the massive chorus kicks in and you begin your goodbye to a rather incredible album.
Overall, what Stomachaches offers isn’t a call to arms or an arena-rock opera, but a sense of hope. The undeniable honesty of the album makes it feel as though we shouldn’t be hearing it all – as if we’ve stumbled upon Iero’s most vulnerable moment. But, it’s for that reason that this album is important – instilling that sense of hope in the listener; a subsequent soundtrack to those darkest moments in your life when you need some clarity or to not feel so alone.