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My Chemical Romance: The Black Parade


My Chemical Romance

Album: The Black Parade
Label: Reprise

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When punk's founding fathers fashioned their new genre, they were reacting to the bloated excesses of rock in the '70s. Simplicity of form became paramount—so it's peculiar when punk artists embrace their genre's sworn enemies, like the classic rock of Sleater-Kinney's The Woods, or the sprawling concept album that was Green Day's American Idiot. And now, My Chemical Romance incorporates Queen's glammy theatrics into its ambitious third album, The Black Parade.

The phenomenon is most pronounced on the album's first single, "Welcome To The Black Parade," an epic that begins with twinkling piano and Gerard Way's lilting voice, and ends like a symphony, with layers and layers of sounds. By choosing "Welcome To The Black Parade" as the lead single, the band seems to be sending a message. The song sounds far removed from the simple melodic punk of 2004's Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge.

Yet, after the first song, Parade opens in traditional MCR form with three bursts of aggressive punk: "Dead!", "This Is How I Disappear," and "The Sharpest Lives." The shift in tone arrives at track five with "Welcome To The Black Parade." Following it are three ballads, the bizarre, polka-inflected "Mama" (featuring guest vocals by, um, Liza Minnelli), a straight-up, cowbell-pounding rock song which sounds uncomfortably close to Warrant, and some middle-of-the-road tracks. All of them are polished within a inch of their lives, and Way's habitual oversinging only makes them sound more overproduced.

Regardless, the style suits My Chemical Romance well. Its leap into Queen-style theatrics isn't much of a leap to begin with, as the band has always played style-conscious, highly dramatic music. Where other bands have deviated from punk into surprising new directions, The Black Parade sounds like the next logical step for My Chemical Romance.