Review Summary: Emo/Punk/Goth/Rock band overcome average musicianship & similar pacing to improve on debut by adding impressive vocals & hooks that show potential for crossover appeal.
There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs relating to roller-coasters. When most people ride them for the first time and are asked their opinion of it afterwards, they are likely to give you very little detail. They are too busy simply experiencing the ride, as the fast pace never lets one settle in & take in the nuances. However, on subsequent attempts at the same ride, many will indeed begin to appreciate them for their real quality, no matter what the said person’s criteria are. On occasions, the same can be said for albums. And so we have My Chemical Romance’s 2nd album (and major label debut) ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’.
Many may disagree, but my more mainstream tilt on things believes this album to be one that grows on you rather than make a great first impression. It can put new listeners of the band on the back foot initially, simply due to it being so frenetically paced that it is almost impossible to take it all in. Furthermore, lead singer Gerard Way’s voice can at first come off a little too annoying. But if given the chance by a listener, this album’s weaknesses can easily be forgiven, while its strengths come to the forefront, especially its hooks.
My Chemical Romance’s music has been compartmentalized into so many genres that I am beginning to lose track. Everything from Pop-Punk to Goth-Punk… From Post Hardcore to Alternative Rock. Of course, then there is that dreaded “emo” word that even the band seem to want to disassociate themselves from, despite the throngs of teenage females wearing all black and covering themselves in similarly colored make-up & nail polish. To be honest, there are times on this album that you can see why the latter term has become used as the lyrics can be downright over-the-top melodramatic. However, it’s only momentarily cringe-worthy in most cases and doesn’t bring whole songs down.
Apparently there was an initial concept storyline to this album, but it wasn’t followed through with entirely. This isn’t a problem for mine as I have personally never let a concept album rule as to whether an album is good or not anyway. If anything, the theme comes into play positively here as the track order is near perfect and helps to accentuate some track’s strengths, especially when it comes to pacing.
Opening up with the relatively moderately-paced fan favorite ‘Helena’ is a good choice, as is following it up with the rapid-fire 1-2 punch of ‘Give ‘Em Hell Kid’ and ‘To The End’. Tracks 1-4 are all between 2:20 and 3:20 in length, so it’s all over and done with promptly. But it is at track 5 when ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’ really hits its strides. 2nd single ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ is contagious despite possibly not being a favorite immediately, while ‘The Ghost Of You’ is the cleverly placed mid-album ballad that works a treat.
My album highlight is track 9 ‘Thank You For The Venom’, in that it’s extremely catchy and memorable from start to beginning, while including some of the better musicianship on the album. The final 4 tracks don’t quite hold up in quality, but there is enough variety contained within them to make them more than successful album tracks. I especially like the spaghetti western beginning of ‘Hang Em High’, while if you can get over the melodrama of ‘Cemetery Drive’ it is actually one of the better tracks here.
Throughout the album, musicianship isn’t exactly a high point as guitarist Ray Toro is energetic rather than technical. Both he and drummer Bob Bryar do nothing outstanding and the music isn’t exactly what I would call clearly defined. It’s more of a constant buzz in the background which creates a satisfactory launching pad that highlights front-man Gerard Way. I can see how Way has his detractors, but he is clearly the strength of the band behind his interesting voice that I feel he uses well here. He just has a knack of pulling off emotion with sufficient melody.
Ultimately, it all makes for a pretty good and relatively accessible (if not immediate) album that shows successful progression from the bands raw and average debut (although the debut actually contained more variety & arguably more ambition). There are clearly improvements to be made as the album is too one-paced and a little too overlong because of that. But for a rock band with punk and gothic tendencies, there is more than enough hooks present here to make My Chemical Romance sufficiently individual and allow them excellent crossover appeal.
Recommended Tracks: Thank You For The Venom, Ghost Of You, I’m Not Okay (I Promise) & Cemetery Drive.