Author: Kate Watanabe
.Stomachaches by frnkiero andthe cellabration is the best album to listen to on a walk on a cold winter night. The hazy distorted guitars twinkle like Christmas tree lights through foggy windows while Iero’s longing raw vocals remind you the warmth you crave is just out of reach. .Stomachaches is an album about yearning, regret, growing up, acceptance, and going home, wherever that is.
Released in 2014, .Stomachaches was the solo debut of My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero. Aptly titled, the record was made while Iero was enduring stomach pain and using music as a coping mechanism. Iero even said in an interview, “These songs were all mine. They started inside me as these wretched stomachaches and I had to dig them out of me in order to survive. They were my disease, and ultimately became my cure.”
The album opens with “All I Want is Nothing,” an abrasive punk song carried by heart pounding drums and lyrics which bemoan Iero’s time spent away from his wife while touring. Contrasting this semi-sweet message, the music is energetic and abrasive which portrays the intensity of this longing. Similarly, “Neverenders” uses both the punk sound and ethos, with repeating thrashing guitars and a message against modern society’s judgment imposing on empathy.
My favorite track is “She’s the Prettiest Girl at the Party, and She Can Prove It With a Solid Right Hook.” The melodic guitar riff haunts the song, like the honeymoon memories that follow the speaker who sits on the fence between staying and leaving a complicated relationship. The narrator debates leaving but has found a comfortable role within the relationship and just wants their partner to reciprocate. The chorus and the song itself end with a declaration that “I’m alright,” indicating acceptance and the decision to stay.
However, “She’s the Prettiest…” is far from the first song where Iero assures listeners that he’s okay. “Joyriding” opens with a mellow buzzing instrumental as lyrics detail raw insecurities ending with, “I hate my weaknesses/ they make me who I am.” Although he struggles to come to terms with his flaws, he ultimately accepts them. As evident when the guitars erupt and Iero’s voice wails “‘Yeah, it’s cool, I’ll be okay’/ I felt your pain wash over me/ Dry your eyes and hide my shakes/ Hate the look that’s on your face.” Despite trying to share his problems, he doesn’t want his loved ones to worry and consoles them.
Year after year, I keep returning to .Stomachaches because its lyrics express a raw anger and vulnerability that read like a confessional diary entry and the music combines lofi and punk influences to create a sound you can get lost in. Sometimes you need an album that’s unabashedly angsty and wantonly, where other artists would sugarcoat the truth.
KATE WATANABE | the prettiest girl at the party | KXSU Music Reporter