“Parachutes are life saving devices. We rely on them to bring us back from the brink of death. Whether we fall or jump they are the only things keeping us alive. Such as with life, we are all just falling or plunging to an eventual end. The act of living can be random and strange, beautiful and ugly at the same time and the only thing that is undeniably certain is eventually we are all gonna hit the ground… This album is one of my parachutes. xo frnk.”
This is what punk-rocker Frank Iero posted on his website to announce new album Parachutes. Weirdly, all of this talk about life-saving devices turned out to foreshadow something. At the end of October, he and his bandmates had a fairly serious road accident while in their tour bus in Sydney, leading to the rest of FIATP’s tour dates this year to be cancelled to give the men some time to recover. The tour was presumably timed around the album launch so that people could hear the live versions of the songs straightaway, but Frank needn’t worry too much: the album is more than capable of representing itself for now. I’ve been waiting for the follow up to his debut for a long time and it certainly hasn’t disappointed.
This is the second offering from Frank Iero, with a change in band name from Frnkiero And the Cellabration, as it was on debut album Stomachaches, to Frank Iero And The Patience. We still have the quirky, Fall Out Boy-esque song titles (Dear Percocet, I Don’t Think We Should See Each Other) and the fascination with the interior body, moving from stomach-aches and cells to veins (“Veins! Veins!! Veins!!!” – he really loves those veins), with that brilliant, raw home-made sound that makes you feel like you’re listening to a group of boys playing in their garage and having a great time.
Let’s not come to the conclusion that Parachutes is a carbon copy of Stomachaches, though. For one thing, Frank’s voice is more confident and melodious now. The songs are also more developed, in the sense that many of them move in various directions between the intro and the outro, rather than being extremely short and hard-hitting like the majority were on Stomachaches. Despite this, each song still feels like a punch in the face, being dealt out one after the other with no fade-outs or silent breaks between them. The whole band goes all-out within the first second of the album, letting us know that we are in for one hell of a ride for the next 40 minutes.
Amongst the punk vibes, there is some sophistication. The intro to They Wanted Darkness… is just the coolest, with the falsetto backing vocals adding a suave touch that we didn’t see on the debut. The most typical pop-punk moment probably comes in The Resurrectionist, Or An Existential Crisis In C#, with its bouncy guitar-riff intro transitioning into a breakdown and an anthemic chorus. However, Frank’s unique howl ensures that nothing on this album really is stereotypical.
What is missing from Stomachaches is a proper heart-wrenching slow-paced tune with soppy lyrics, which I know that Frank is good at. It felt like he was laying his heart on the line more in Stomachaches, but maybe he had enough of the soppiness on the first album, which is absolutely fine. We do get a few stripped-down moments scattered across the album, such as the beautiful section towards the end of I’ll Let You Down when the band is peeled away to leave just Frank and his guitar, and Miss Me which curiously echoes the Cup Song from Pitch Perfect. Intentional or not, I have no idea.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Frank Iero album without a mass of self-deprecating and angsty lyrics. “I swear I’ve been a loser all my goddamn life / I don’t think I ever got off the ground” and “I hope it doesn’t get worse before it gets worse” are just a few. You get the feeling that writing music is Frank’s form of therapy, where he airs all of his worries, confesses what he needs to and makes something worthwhile out of them. It really is his parachute. The album shows us that it is never too late to grow out of angsty lyrics and that we don’t ever need to. Frank tries tell us that there is no shame in allowing ourselves to be juvenile and letting ourselves go from time to time; after all, isn’t being able to stay young and wild the beautiful thing about music?