My Chemical Romance
The Black Parade
Read any interview with My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, and he’ll usually be going off on how rock bands should be larger than life, just like his favorite comic-book heroes. Way’s always been obsessed with making grand, sweeping gestures (graphic-novel disc artwork, female-empowering stage banter, choreography at “punk” shows; hell, his band’s publishing company is called Blow The Doors Off The Jersey Shore Music), even in the days when his band were little more than friends of Thursday. This is why MCR are loved by lots of girls and reviled by scrawny young men in homemade Propagandhi tees.
Heroes in Modern Rock 2006 are hard to find. That’s why MCR looked backward for The Black Parade, embracing rock history and giving it fresh love bites on its flabby skin. The cavalcade of Parade floats salute album-oriented classic-rock (the bouncy, Cheap Trick-inspired “Dead”), jaunty mid-’70s British glam, the poodle-metal of the mid-’80s and its common signifier, the power ballad (“I Don’t Love You”). Rock history reference points abound, from the opening salvo (“The End”) coming off like the nephew of Pink Floyd’s “In The Flesh?” to the Foghat-live-at-Columbine boogie-rock of “Teenagers.” Vocally, Way conjures his Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge persona, while trying on vocal cords belonging to everyone from Freddie Mercury to Jack White (“House Of Wolves”). What’s really engaging is that The Black Parade is a concept album about death (physical, psychological, emotional; take your pick), yet even the most weepy sentiments are delivered with a swagger (“Cancer” or the Eastern European-flecked “Mama”), a blistering guitar lead (Ray Toro’s the rocker, Frank Iero’s the punker) or a joyful, bouncy cadence (supplied by Mikey Way and Bob Briar). One gets the feeling that My Chem are men out of time, given the ease they’ve rejuvenated these rock idioms. (Apparently, Gang Of Four, Radiohead and Talk Talk never did rock the Jersey shore much.)
The Black Parade is MCR’s whole raison d’etre rolled up into one mega-decibel calling card, replete with heroes, villains, terror, sadness and the unblinking conviction to put it all out there for celebration and ridicule. As one Way-worshipped rock icon once posited 30-some years ago, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” Here’s to MCR making a career out of blurring that line.
ROCKS LIKE: Cheap Trick’s All Shook Up
My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
Queen’s A Night At The Opera