Let’s talk about Frank Iero for a second. His musicianship: second to none. His work ethic: impeccable. So it was no surprise that this new musical effort was released only a year or so after MCR’s untimely demise. This is the first proper release by an ex-member of the My Chem camp that you can actually buy on iTunes and excitement surrounding the release has been unsurprisingly high.
So, what does it actually sound like then? Well, imagine something that’s a little bit indie punk and a little bit old school emo with large dollops of rough-edged garage rock sound thrown in for good measure. Lyrically things start intense and only get more so throughout the album. Tracks like ‘.weighted.’ and ‘.blood infections.’ hide some serious self-directed anger under their scratchy yet contagious hooks. By the time you get to the point in ‘.blood infections.’ where Iero’s begging ‘Just don’t hate me’ and then a bit later ‘Don’t hurt me’ it’s hard not to actually feel a little uncomfortable, like you’ve blurred the line between listening to the man’s music and walking into one of his therapy sessions.
This is a feeling that’s repeated throughout the album, it’s like watching someone clear out their emotional demons in a rather noisy and messy manner. There is one quieter, almost acoustic track ‘.stage 4 fear of trying.’ And this gentle track creates a feeling of something almost like hope and provides some welcome light to the dark atmosphere most of the preceding songs have established, making it far and away the best song on the album. And then, just like that, we’re immediately thrown back in the deep end with some serious punk aggression in the form of ‘.tragician.’ containing lyrics like ‘I am my own worst enemy, and I hate me.’
Overall then, Stomachaches is a good album. It’s got a satisfyingly raw feel, with a true, authentic garage punk edge and you certainly couldn’t accuse it of lacking authentic passion and emotion. There’s potential here definitely, and Frank Iero certainly has the ability to create something that could equal his former band’s finest moments, if not eclipse them.