Album Review: Ray Toro – “Remember the Laughter”

Ray Toro has had many identities over the course of his career: sci-fi punk, technophile, shred-master, and now, father of both a human child as well as an audio one, the soon-to-be-released “Remember the Laughter.” Dubbed by Ray as a concept album about a middle-aged man finding a memory box in the attic of his childhood home, with each song representing a different memory triggered by the items found inside the box, “Remember the Laughter” is also the primary message that he would like to send to his son once he is gone.

As Ray recorded the album pretty much on his own, with some drumming help from former A Static Lullabye and Matt Skiba and the Sekrets drummer, Jarrod Alexander, and engineering guruism from Doug McKean, David C. Hughes and Gene Grimaldi, the level of syncopation may surprise some, but Toro has promised to provide as organic a feel as possible on the road.

Those who have been following Ray’s whereabouts these past few years will recognize “Isn’t That Something,” which Ray wrote to encourage himself to face the next chapter of life sans long-time band, My Chemical Romance, and “Hope For The World,” which Ray posted over the summer, and which interlude, “Eruption,” contains a 911 call and newscast regarding Ferguson. As one moves through the album, perhaps along with the visual provided by Ray’s website here, a dreamy, slightly melancholy, mood settles over them during “Walking In Circles.”

The listener is then jarred a bit by Ray’s whispered chant to “Wake up!” during “Wedding Day.” “We Save” is sort of a marcher, “Ascent” is an interlude, and Ray’s pretty strumming returns in “The Great Beyond.” For my money, it’s this and “Take the World” which are the standout – super catchy, hella optimistic. “Father’s Day” is another cool little interlude, and “The Lucky Ones” has an awesome vibe. Think daydreaming on the train ride home here – with an amazing little violin vignette right at the end. “Requiem” is a sorrowful toe-tapper with a very appealing tribal chant at the end.

My Chemical Romance fans might resonate with lyrics like these, from “Look At Your Now:” “You stood up for yourself – I can’t count how long. You lived through it all. Look at you now. Look at you now.” The title and final track is preceded by the interlude “Waiting Room,” featuring mobile sounds. Regarding this, Ray has said that he hopes to encourage the listener to hold onto positive memories in the wake of the sorrow of loss.

For those who are unfamiliar with Ray’s singing style, think modern-day Stevie Winwood.

“Remember the Laughter” drops on November 18. Grab a copy here:

Get a preview here:

And ask him some questions here:

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