Overall Score: 7/10 Guitar skills: 8/10 Lyricism : 7/10 Vocals: 7/10 Pros: Different to MCR | Ray's voice | Guitar work Cons: Lyrics can get too sentimental
Ray Toro has been flying under the radar for over three years. Since his band, My Chemical Romance split in 2013, Toro has been almost completely away from the public eye. The upcoming release of Remember The Laughter marks Toro’s first solo release, and a departure from the hard rock riffs he was known for in MCR.
Three and a half years in the making, Ray Toro’s debut features a whole host of classics as influences; including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and more. He composes, sings and plays almost everything on the record, with some help from his wife and son (aged just 2 ½ at the time!) along with a few session players on certain songs.
The album ties together as a loose concept, in Ray’s words it’s about:
“A middle-aged man return[ing] to his childhood home. Hearing a familiar melody, he goes to the attic to find a memory box he never knew was there. As he goes through it, each of the items in the box sparks a memory, and each song represents one of those memories.”
Each song on Remember The Laughter certainly helps to show off Toro’s virtuosic song writing abilities. Tunes like “We Save” drip with swagger and feature bluesy, emotional guitar solos amongst strong vocal lines and visceral, poetic lyrics that paint fragile pictures of nostalgic memories.
Lead single “Take The World” features a lead riff reminiscent of many 90s indie bands and a happy-go-lucky vocal line to match. It’s the closest the album get to ever feeling like any My Chem release; the main chorus wouldn’t sound out of place on their final album Danger Days at all, presumably the reason it was picked to lead the rollout.
Though the lyrics on certain songs, such as “Walking In Circles”, the track which his wife lends backing vocals to, can become somewhat saccharine, it’s hard to be angry at Toro for being happy on what seems to be an at least somewhat autobiographical release.
However, the passionate vocal performances and interesting melody found in “Walking In Circles” are, unfortunately, nowhere to be found on another too-sweet tune, “Hope For The World.” This is a sentimental song with uplifting major key piano chords and a repetitive, titular chorus that manages to sound like a boring B-Side to a Band Aid single.
The album doesn’t linger with any particular sound for too long though, and this whirlwind tour of Toro’s inspirations never feels self-indulgent or over the top.
Remember the Laughter is an album that deserves to be listened to front to back. It tells a story, much in the vein of many of his former bands releases. The highlight of this album is seeing a different side to Ray Toro, no longer just a great guitarist, but a well-rounded and passionate songwriter.
Remember The Laughter will be released on the 18th of November.