Nearly two months ago, when I first heard the single “I’m A Mess” off of the new Frnkiero Andthe Patience (formerly known as Frnkiero Andthe Cellabration) album, Parachutes, I was caught off guard. Their first album, Stomachaches, doesn’t qualify to be labelled anything like pop punk, but as I listened to “I’m A Mess” that was the genre I seemed to hear. Then, I was thrown off by the fact that I could actually tell what frontman Frank Iero was singing, as opposed to the static-esque vocals of Stomachaches. I finished listening to “I’m A Mess” and immediately started it again. It’s fast paced, like a FIATC/P song. It’s angry, like a FIATC/P song. It’s got a great bass line, like a FIATC/P song. I guess it is a Frnkiero Andthe Cella-Patience song. And I guess I like it. I really like it.
That was back in September, and now that the full album is released, I have more material to make sense of. So let’s begin.
The fact that I was thrown off by the first single was an omen, because this album is not what I expected. There has definitely been a change in sound for the four-piece, but it makes sense as a next step for the band. Their sound has become more polished, more melodic, and has a kind of newer Against Me! vibe—of course, keeping its own qualities of Frnkiero Andthe Patience. There exists a stark contrast between each of the 12 tracks, so that initial “huh” of surprise doesn’t really go away while listening to the album through.
“They Wanted Darkness…” is a track that struck me in this way. It starts with an iconic bass tone and the vocals come in smooth but dripping with bitterness. “You said you want my pain? I’ll give you pain.” Listening to this song, I picture smoke and brick walls and mystery. It builds up to a full-blown Frnkiero Andthe Patience angsty punk song; a declaration of casting away a person and their ability to hurt you.
Another track that sticks out to me is the fifth song, “I’ll Let You Down.” This song is placed right after “They Wanted Darkness…” highlighting the diversity in the album. “I’ll Let You Down” is, to put it simply, cinematic. Pressing play, it seems to announce its importance right-off-the-bat, like trumpets in a royal entrance fanfare. Prominent drums and a hard-hitting chord progression scream glory before Iero’s signature angsty vocals come in. This song almost—dare I say it—sounds like a relative of something off of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. It’s just a bit more punk though, making it wholeheartedly Frank Iero—an artist who has always been able to define himself musically outside of his work in MCR with projects like Pencey Prep, LeATHERMØUTH, and Death Spells.
When I was in Chicago for Riot Fest this last September I had the privilege of watching Frnkiero Andthe Patience play an acoustic set in a tiny tent packed with people. During the set, Iero announced that he was going to play a (unreleased at the time) song off of Parachutes. He then played the 8th track on the album, “Miss Me.” The entire crowd was silent, hanging on his every word as he played the folk-y song—just him and his acoustic guitar. “I hope somebody’ll miss me when I’m gone. I hope somebody’ll miss me when I’m gone. I know it ain’t right, to want someone to cry, just hope you’ll miss me when I’m gone. Just wish I knew which way I was going.” Iero’s voice held enough emotion to bring you to tears, and I found myself in that moment wishing and wishing it would sound the same on the record so I could relive those minutes in that tent. I’m thrilled to know now that the song is just as amazing as it was that day in September. “Miss Me” is a song that makes me feel alive, my heart aching with love. “Thank God you love me when I’m here. ‘Cause whenever I’m away, just wish that I could stay right by your side forevermore.” My heart aches with love for this track.
Frank Iero has had a busy past four months or so. His other creative outlet, the two-piece Death Spells, released their debut album in late July. After touring on that for a while, and playing three sets at Riot Fest in September, Iero and a couple of his Patience band mates were injured in an accident, in which their van was struck by a bus in Australia.
Parachutes is all shock, as was its October release in the aftermath of that accident. Unfortunately, they had to cancel all of their previously planned tour dates for the rest of the year. Iero announced this in a letter to the fans, or “frendz” as he refers to them. In this, Iero writes “As a thank you for your love and understanding I’ve decided to release one of my favorite songs from our new record, Parachutes, a little bit early. Oceans is a song about accepting love even though you are unsure if you actually deserve it…and eventually letting it surround you and drowning in a sea of it.”
“Oceans” is the ninth track on the album. Starting out with a simple drum beat and guitar power chords, the lyrics are able to shine. Iero’s voice isn’t laced with anger or bitterness as it usually is, but instead has a softness to it capable of making the lyric “I hate everything” sound gentle. The song builds up to a more energetic pace, sounding like something comparable to The Wonder Years’ No Closer to Heaven—a pop punk album that I adore. The pop punk vibes that have resurfaced in the album continue into the next track.
Parachutes wasn’t an instant favorite of mine. After recovering from the initial surprise of the changes in sounds, however, you can find me declaring my love for it from the nearest rooftop. This album is an emotional rollercoaster, much like I imagine this past month has been for Frnkiero Andthe Patience. Iero seems to have perfectly expressed pure hatred on the same album that he’s expressed true love, translating passion into art and making it look easy while he does it.