Overall Score: 7/10 Memorable songs: 8/10 Repeat Listen Value: 7/10 Consistency: 6/10 Pros: Catchy | Unlike anything out at the moment Cons: Vocals on the verses can lose appeal
It was a ballsy move for Frank Iero to not release a re-hash of the MCR sound that launched him into the stratosphere. On ‘Stomachaches’ we experience his first solo foray, and it’s unlike anything you’d have heard before from him, not the anthemic sound of My Chemical Romance nor the raw aggression of hardcore outfit Leathermouth.
The album gets off to a promising start; ‘All I Want Is Nothing’ is a dose of scuzzy punk and is catchy as hell without being clean-cut. ‘Weighted’ ensures the pace doesn’t drop, with hooks that soar through the distorted guitars, and ‘Blood Infections’ has a despair-tinged urgency that fans of early-era My Chemical Romance will love.
The music is best when it’s frenetic and fun. Despite being a seasoned musician, on ‘Neverenders’ he sounds utterly invigorated. The song is a highlight of this album; two minutes snarling punk perfection with Frank’s guttural vocals lending a much-welcomed edge to proceedings.
The flaw of ‘Stomachaches’ is that it sometimes lacks clarity, meaning the songs merge into one another and it all gets a bit muddy. ‘Stage 4 fear of trying’ seems like a stab at something slow and a bit mournful, but an attempted acoustic ballad without well, the acoustic guitar means it falls flat. Elsewhere ‘Guiltripping’ is more monotonous than haunting.
‘Stomachaches’ isn’t a blinding debut album, the saturated, sometimes droning vocals can make the things plod on a bit, and the lo-fi sound takes a few listens to get your head around. However it’s got an undeniable rough-around-the-edges charm to it, and enough good songs to ensure that there’s a decent chance people will take Frank Iero’s solo project seriously.
Stomachaches is released on the 25th of August (UK) and 26th of August (US) on Hassle Records in the UK & Staples Records in the US.