Review Summary: My Chemical Romance’s debut is their heaviest and most versatile album but does little to draw the listener in due to its lack of polish.
My Chemical Romance is one of today’s most successful rock outfits despite the constant adjustments to the band’s core sound. I was one of the few people outside of the high school scene kids who jumped on The Black Parade train. I proceeded to fall even more so in love with its predecessor, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. After talking to my friends and hearing their debut was even better, I was excited to check it out. Unfortunately, they were wrong. I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love is a bland record that does little to draw in the average listener.
This is not because the album shows no potential, but rather a lack of polish. Every track features something worth noting, such as the nice vocal melodies in “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville”, or the upbeat bounce of “Headfirst for Halos”. The variety between tracks is also noticeable, with no two tracks being easy to confuse. The album is also much more hardcore punk influenced than the band’s later works, with a surprising amount of screaming, which makes it feel different and fresh. Unfortunately, these enjoyable moments do not make this album great, but are mere shining spots on a diamond still in the rough. And it's very rough. While normally an album undergoes a lengthy inspection by a band’s management and producer to find and eliminate spots that harm the song, there is little evidence that Eyeball Records even thought a review prcess might be a good idea.
Exploring the album’s questionable engineering brings many red flags to mind. While wanting a raw tone for the album is understandable, there are just too many problems to ignore. A better instrument tone can be achieved with a cheap amplifier and Guitar Hero microphone than what is presented on this album. The drums are too low in the mix, with the cymbals often over blaring the snare and bass kick and not providing the driving force necessary for this type of record. The drums also do not seem to have been recorded with a click track, often speeding up or slowing down slightly over the course of the song. The vocal doubling is often off time and feels unnecessary throughout. Gerard’s vocals deserve special mention. The vocals sound like they went with the first take rather than retaking sections that were out of key or off time, and his screaming is simply awful. His lyrics sound like he purposefully wrote the most emo sounding thing that cam to mind. Take this quote from Vampires Will Never Hurt You:
"And now the nightclub sets the stage for this they come in pairs she said/We'll shoot back holy water like cheap whiskey they're always there/Someone get me to the doctor, and someone call the nurse/And someone buy me roses, and someone burned the church/We're hanging out with corpses, and driving in this hearse/And someone save my/soul tonight, please save my soul"
While one would assume these types of lyrics are to be expected of a band like this, they still are not the intelligent lyrics they are praised as by fans of the band.
To get back to more positive elements of the album, there moments that show the potential My Chemical Romance came to realize on later works. The drum work is entertaining, providing noticeable fills every now and then. The guitar work is certainly better than they get credit for, and guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Iero shine amongst their peers. The vocals are certainly passionate if not very good, and certainly help further the emotion the track was trying to get across. While very few tracks on the album that shine, the album is also not bloated with horrible tracks. Rather, most of the album (especially after the first half) does nothing for or against the album.
Overall, My Chemical Romance’s debut does little worth noting. Fans of the band’s later work may be interested in giving this a listen, just don’t expect much from this record. Despite catchy choruses and a very passionate delivery, the flaws are simply too much to save this album from a mere average rating.