Review Summary: Poor production, lack of refinement & inconsistent vocals make it difficult to hear the ambition & potential contained deep within.
When a movie is badly directed or edited, it stands out like a sore thumb and the movie is usually nothing more than passable. Occasionally, directors will even go so far as to instigate legal proceedings to have their name removed from the picture. That kind of thing doesn’t usually occur in the world of music, arguably because there are less people involved in the creative process and the criticism usually falls on the artist themselves for the most part.
My Chemical Romance’s debut album ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’ is one album where court proceedings may in fact be necessary to figure out what anyone was thinking with regards to most of the track-list. I am almost certain it would turn into a blaming game between co-producers Alex Saavedra & (lead singer of Thursday) Geoff Rickly, as well as the band themselves. The album is so poorly refined and edited that you just want to yell out “CUT” on the whole thing. It’s so bad in some cases that it is almost impossible to see some quality amongst it all.
Take for example the mid-album 1-2 punch of track 7 ‘Skylines and Turnstiles’ and track 8 ‘Early Sunsets Over Monroeville’. The former should simply have never made the final cut of the album. It is of poor quality in almost every department and if you heard a local band complete an exactly identical performance, you would either boo or simply remain silent. The latter song is merely a decent ballad that goes on and on at least 2 minutes too long. It was as if these tracks were recorded and never spoken about how they could be improved by anyone. Movie directors call for re-shoots or polish up the product in post-production. That clearly didn’t occur here.
Elsewhere, approximately half of the track-listing shows some kind of potential, but there simply isn’t enough refinement to allow the respective strengths of the songs to shine through. There are some neat little ideas and ambition lurking deep within songs like ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’, ‘This is the Best Day Ever’ & even the overlong mumbo-jumbo of lyrics that is ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’. But enjoying these songs is as difficult and annoying as driving with a dirty windscreen when your windscreen wipers don’t work.
The album is predominantly front-loaded as its pretty much all downhill following track 6, the very good, positive & bouncy up-tempo “Headfirst for Halos’. The only exception is the album’s closer ‘Demolition Lovers’, which actually makes good use of its 6 minute running time as it is an emotional rollercoaster that is well captured by its effective changes of pace and structure. Earlier on, the pseudo-opener ‘Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for he Two of Us’ is solid, while ‘Drowning Lessons’ proves that the band know their way around a rapid-fire rocker, as they were to prove on their follow-up album ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’.
With only a few exceptions, the music is ok without being especially noteworthy. Its leanings are more towards the hardcore, but the band only seem to go half the way there suggesting they were still to find their niche. Lead vocalist Gerard Way is yet to find his harmony here and is very inconsistent. Meanwhile, the lyrics throughout are not exactly those for shiny happy people. Full of angst and emotion, it does get overbearing (and sometimes plain silly) at times, but the poor production actually makes them easier to ignore in a way.
When all is said and done, I cannot grant My Chemical Romance’s debut album a pass mark. The lack of refinement is simply too glaring and it takes far too many listens to spot the positives on the majority of the tracks. At 41 minutes running time, the album comes off as overlong, especially since it is clearly front-loaded. This effort may arouse curiosity value from newer fans of the group, but I can’t imagine doing anything but ignoring it if I heard this album before their later releases.
Recommended Tracks: Headfirst for Halos & Demolition Lovers.