Review Summary: After the album finishes, we are left feeling satisfied. We have the notion that we have just listened to a great album. Still, there’s always this little bug in the back of our mind saying that this could have been so much more…
My first contact with My Chemical Romance was through the video to Welcome to The Black Parade
. I was immediately interested, and kept the name of the band for future reference. Shortly afterwards I heard the awesome Teenagers
and I was hooked. I asked a friend to burn me whatever he had by this band, and he burned me Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
and The Black Parade
. The first had me bitterly disappointed; the second had me recommending the band to other friends of mine.
If we overlook the fact that the singer wears eyeliner, that the lyrics are whiny and faux-emotional and that the target audience is 12-year-old girls and sulky 16-year-olds boys with attitude problems, this is actually a pretty cool album. It’s musically varied and it has some good ideas to revitalize a waning genre.
The genre in question is not emo, but rather punk-pop. Yes, at their core, MCR are a punk-pop band. In fact, without all the chimes and piano sweeps and conceptual apparatus, they sound quite a lot like Green Day. Singer Gerard Way is a whinier Billie Joe, and the guitars could be a heavier, slightly hardcore-tinged version of the aforementioned group. However, over this punk-pop core the band insert layer upon layer of effects, keyboards, horn sections, guitar chimes and whatnot, that actually sound, for the most part pretty cool.
Also worth mentioning is that this is a concept album. However, don’t listen to it because of the concept, because it’s pretty sucky. It’s basically about two lovers and one of them gets cancer and blah blah blah, all pretty tragic, just forget about it. The real winner here is the music.
is a pretty good beginner – get it? The End
? – for this album. It’s a soft, piano driven track for the most part, and even when drums and electric guitars come in, it never strays from ballad molds. There are also some great lyrics – a rarity in this album – and one of my favourite lines in any song, ever – ”if you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see/you can find out first hand what it’s like to be me”
. Oh man, can I ever relate to that. Only one gripe – what the **** does ”it’s my resignation, I’ll serve it in drag”
mean? Other than this lame verse, this is a great intro track, that fades straight into….Dead
. This is a worthy follow-up track, a cool chunk of punk-pop with a good chorus. However, the album’s main weak point comes up in full here: weak lyrics. Sure, the line ”hearing the news that you’re dead”
is quite nice – I suppose that’s what happens to people with cancer, they’re basically “hearing the news that they’re dead”, but the rest of the horrifically overdone lyrics will only please listeners who are at that “my parents hate me, my friends hate me, I wish I’d die” phase of their existence. Overlooking that small detail, though, this is a great track.
The next two tracks hold the fort, even though they’re not as good as Dead
. This is How I Disappear
sort of grows on you, with its catchy chorus and fast pace. The Sharpest Lives
has a pretty cool intro (with a synthesized *something* playing behind Way’s vocals), but then fades into mediocrity.
However, the function of these tracks seems to be solely to prepare us for the best moment of this album: the title track. I suppose everybody’s heard this one on the radio or on TV, and for me it’s impossible to dissociate it from the awesome grim-circus concept of the video. The song is divided into two parts: the piano-and-vocals intro (awesome) and the punk-pop part (not so awesome). Way is once again hogging the mike, but it’s clear that the real star here are the drums. The guy sounds awesome with his martial drumming in the intro, and during the punk-pop part he’s all over the place with the fills, making the song that much better and, in fact, catchier (I found myself looking forward to that drum fill before the third chorus). All in all, the track that best encapsulates all that MCR are or at least strive to be.
Unfortunately, after Welcome to the Black Parade
nothing is ever the same again. Up next is I Don’t Love You
, a track that I used not to mind, but now do, because it sounds like something Keane or Maroon 5 could have written. It basically has RADIO BALLAD plastered all over it, which is kind of annoying, because of the shamelessness of it all. After that, the album takes a plunge, and only on occasion (during Teenagers
or when being taken by surprise by Blood
) do we glimpse the band’s former – and proven – geniality. There’s also a couple of useless ballads like Cancer
– I can’t see how I used to like this track – and some clear filler tracks like House Of Wolves
of Famous Last Words
. The lyrics never recover from their duped, catatonic state, maybe fittingly, since this is an album about cancer (excuse the dark humor). There's also Mama
, a fine track where he's writing a letter to his mum, but spoiled by the over-repetition of the line "Mama we're all gonna die"
. OK, we get it - you're about to die. No use laboring the point. Geez.
Exceptions to both rules - sucky lyrics and poor music - are found on the quite wonderful Teenagers
, a track that escapes the punk-pop-whining mold and stands out as a great piece of music. The lyrics are also particularly good, especially the second verse. ”The boys and girls in the clique/the awful names that they stick/you’re never gonna fit in much, kid/but if you’re troubled and hurt/what you’ve got under your shirt/will make them pay for the things that they did”
may have a couple of PTA’s and politically correct authorities up in arms, but for my money, it’s the
high-school-is-Hell, teenage-rebellion line of the century. Another fine example is the short and hilarious outro Blood
, featuring the line ”I’m such an awful f**k”
, which makes me laugh every time. Musically this track is also quite clever, being backed only by a minimalistic clavichord and conveying a real end-of-opera feel, especially because of Way’s over-the-top singing.
After it finishes – and the album finishes – we are left feeling satisfied. We have the notion that we have just listened to a great album. Still, there’s always this little bug in the back of our mind saying that this could have been so much more…If you choose not to listen to it, then this is a plenty enjoyable album. If you do…well, then it’s a fact that it could
have been more. Still, what we do have is good enough to warrant a listen.
Welcome To The Black Parade