One might notice something when reading almost any review about My Chemical Romance’s latest record, The Black Parade. Each one of them is going to include some sort of rock math equation that will involve any combination of the following factors: Queen, David Bowie, Pink Floyd (or more accurately The Wall) and punk rock. Whether it’s Queen covering The Wall on crack or a punk version of David Bowie’s A Night at the Opera on crack or that Queen, Bowie and Floyd all had sex and now present their five headed love child on crack. The Black Parade, MCR’s first release since their second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, found its way into a million angsty hands. It is probably one of the most expository titles of a record since the Beastie Boys’ Some Old Bullshit. From the first few folksy acoustic chords jumbled over a heart monitor, lead singer Gerard Way is the drum major/ring leader/lead baton twirler of an explosion of vibrant horns, chugging guitars and drums so loud that John Bonham’s probably playing an exact set up in the clouds right now.
After the first track, “The End,” where Way welcomes listeners with “Come one/Come all/to this tragic affair,” it’s typical MCR with three fast paced, throat shredding lollipops wrapped in detachment and vampires. The album’s centerpiece and first single, “Welcome To The Black Parade,” then rolls into town with single piano notes wilting away under Way’s childlike reminicing and grows into all the theathatrics and bombasticism involved in P.T. Barnum’s worst nightmare.
With Parade, MCR accomplishes a concept album that does everything Green Day’s American Idiot wanted to do. It presents a fairly consistent story line punctuated by catchy, anthematic tunes that tug at heart strings and shatter spinal chords all at the same time. Idiot tried too hard, had a ham handed narrative and really only reached anthematic status on the eight minute opus “Homecoming.” Where Green Day would experiment with different styles of music, they sounded cut and pasted, simply there to be there and to be different before they would launch into their typical three chord power pop. When MCR channels System of a Down for the organ grinding insanity of “Mama” (with guest vocals by Liza Minelli) you can hear a band trying something new, not just trying.
There are parts of The Black Parade that people are going to hate. The artsy will find it too catchy and accessible, the rockers will feel hurt and betrayed that their heroes are listening to AIDS martyrs instead of Minor Threat. By creating such a sonic wall of eclecticity, MCR has given nay sayers a lot to work with. Despite what most will say about Parade, My Chemical Romance has evolved past the band that last year seemed to have already peaked, will probably put out one more good album before imploding. They have put out a great album. And it’s most definitely on crack.