With the release of Stomachaches Frank Iero has pipped former band mate Gerard Way in being the first of the ex-members of My Chemical Romance to release a full length ‘solo’ album since the band’s split (albeit only by a matter of weeks).
Though the name sounds like a band the majority of the work on this album is done by Iero himself (with ‘real drums’ credited to Jarrod Alexander) demonstrating a remarkable musical aptitude from the former My Chemical Romance guitarist.
This approach comes across very clearly in the music as it sounds like a record with a very singular vision that could only really come from one point. Something made by committee could never sound like this, and its refreshing in a world of cookie-cutter popular rock music to hear such a defined artistic vision.
This doesn’t mean that Stomachaches is twelve tracks that all sound the same, far from it in fact. There’s a general lo-fi punk vibe with elements of indie, goth, hardcore and pop-punk added in to create a range of sounds that feel like Iero is letting the listener into his head – while hinting that this is just a small part of what’s in there, and certainly being more varied than his past hardcore side-project Leathermouth.
While some of the songs do seem to deal with his time in My Chemical Romance, albeit obliquely, there is a mix of emotion from raging to far sweeter and more tender things here. These, along with the varied, bass guitar heavy, sounds help develop something far more than the one note solo album that is often expected from already established guitarists.
As I’ve mentioned Iero shows a talent across a range of instruments and he even has a great voice for his own particularly sound that, though it seems a bit trite to say it, is something akin to a harsher, punkier Gerard Way and the sounds at times bitingly harsh and at others surprisingly soulful.
While I doubt Stomachaches is likely to trouble the mainstream, aside from possible support by the so-called MCArmy fans, there is stuff here poppy enough to get people dancing, heavy enough to get them moshing and restrained enough to be great to just sit and listen to. It is great to hear a seemingly cynicism free record, released in a potential pop genre, that sounds like a genuine expression of one persons inner thoughts and feelings, in a not too obvious way.