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My Chemical Romance fails to lead ‘Parade’

Marty Schroeder | Tuesday, November 21, 2006

When did it become fashionable for Goth to blend with a Napoleonic, costumed outfit pulled out of the attic for Sgt. Pepper? This seems to be the case with My Chemical Romance’s latest release, “Welcome to the Black Parade.” With an overly skeletal makeup style and a musical taste that simply doesn’t match, My Chemical Romance has unsuccessfully gone the emo-rock route of break-ups, gender bending and pretentiousness. While the music is catchy at points, on the whole it’s too pop-like to take this band at face value.

Opening with two tracks that are basically one (and ironically the best of the album), My Chemical Romance yearns to look like Green Day and sound like Alkaline Trio with a similar emo-goth style. However, the band lacks both the staying power of Green Day and the testicular fortitude to write the gut-wrenching lyrics that have come to define Alkaline Trio, the self-proclaimed heirs to “evil emo.”

Particularly, this is shown in the lyrics of the first track, when lead singer Gerard Way says, “Now come one and all to this tragic affair/ Wipe off that makeup/ What’s in is despair.” The album isn’t tragic – the high production values are too glossy, and the backup vocals could have been drawn from any corporate library of sounds.

What can be made, then, of the band’s makeup? The androgynous nature of pop-punk has been part of a growing trend. For example, AFI’s frontman, Davey Havok, started wearing makeup years ago. However, Havok’s music had the lyrical poeticism to warrant his alternative-looking stage costumes. With “The Black Parade,” bubblegum pop-punk meets Havok’s style, and is not the better for it.

Whereas AFI can effectively sing about a girl, and make it sound good, My Chemical Romance is spouting the same old lyrics of their first album while trying to imitate an image of seriousness and doom. One has to ask if they are actually asking any particular girl to take off her makeup, or if they are directed towards any musician among the spate of emo-punk bands with eyeliner and black uniforms.

Track four, “The Sharpest Lives,” is the most complete track on the album, with a catchy riff and lyrics that are able to sound like they’re from the heart. The rest of the album ranges from slightly forced to sarcastically sublime. The prime example of this sublimeness and profundity is the titular track, “Welcome to the Black Parade.” The band may be trying to pay homage to Queen, but Freddie Mercury and company did the “massive rock” opening much better than My Chemical Romance does.

The rest of the album is nothing to shake a fist at – more run of the mill emo-punk that wants to change lives and pull some tears from the listener, garnering more smirks than anything. “I Don’t Love You” doesn’t seem to belong on the album, while the ninth track, “Mama,” is an interesting gypsy-esque rock manifesto.

Overall, those in search of decent emo-punk and somewhat interesting lyrics should consider picking up “The Black Parade.” However, the countless other bands My Chemical Romance references did the same things first, and often did them better.