Gatsbys American Dream’s Volcano is one of my favorite albums (and no, there is not supposed to be an apostrophe in Gatsbys). I generally have a hard time buying into concept albums, and I’ll admit that on first listen I didn’t make many connections between tracks on this one, but this is one of those albums that rewards repeated listening. Sometimes I’ll read a review of an album where the reviewer is gushing over all the different “characters” and “story lines” present in an album, but when I listen, all I hear is a bunch of songs about a bunch of different stuff. My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade is a great album, but for me, it fails as a concept album. Or maybe I fail as a listener.
Regardless, I’m juxtaposing these songs today because of the thematic threads woven between them. All of Volcano is about human emotions and the ways they resemble a volcano, and these two songs illustrate the way the band conveys this theme with power and subtlety. In Theatre, the album’s opener, Nic Newsham begins the album with the lines, “I see the world in a swirl of hues/but my favorite color is shame,” immediately suggesting strong emotions from the author. In Fable, a disturbingly poppy allegory to Lord of the Flies, Newsham repeats that opening line as the narrator dances around the fire, about to drop the boulder on Piggy and burn the island to the ground. This callback informs the meaning and emotion of both songs, suggesting that the idea of seeing the world in a swirl of hues is associated with feelings of blind rage and hatred.
In addition, during the “violent” portions of Fable, the bass line switches from its regular poppy cadence to that of Theatre, further linking the two songs and the emotions associated with them together. This may seem obvious as you listen to both songs because I’m telling you beforehand, but I’ve been listening to the album since 2005 and just noticed this fact a few weeks ago. It was such a startling realization that it sent chills down my spine.