MCR provides more of the same

Andrew Gaug

Call My Chemical Romance what you will — cheesy, emo, stereotypical but the band can’t be knocked for their lack of ambition.

After spending their first two albums singing about dead lovers and vampires, the pop-punk quintet start a new chapter with The Black Parade, a concept album based around a man’s visions on his death bed as he’s dying from cancer.

If the idea of a theatrical concept album sounds familiar, it is. Made popular by Pink Floyd and The Beach Boys, the idea was resurrected into the mainstream with Green Day’s American Idiot and, no surprise, the producer behind that album also helms Parade.

Though the idea of a concept album may seem played out, My Chemical Romance turn in some of their best work throughout the first half of the album with huge, dark songs such as “Dead!”, “This Is How I Disappear,” and their Queen-inspired first single “Welcome to the Black Parade.” Producer Rob Cavallo takes what the band knows best — straight-faced, catchy goth-punk songs and magnifies it with the soaring qualities of the band’s hit “Helena.”

Much like American Idiot, ambition eventually begets quality songs as bland power ballads such as “I Don’t Love You” and “Disenchanted” as well as a poor attempt at southern rock in “Teenagers” mars what would be a solid album.

The band hasn’t heard of the word overwrought as they occasionally get too theatrical and artsy for their own, going as far as, no joke, getting Liza Minelli to guest on the goodbye song “Mama.”

Lyrics go from cheesy goth lyrics (“so darken your clothes / or strike a violent pose / Maybe they’ll leave you alone”) to the introspective (“I’m just a man / I’m not a hero! /Just a boy, who’s meant to sing this song”). For all the highs they hit on the album musically, the lyrics leave something to be desired as they hit all the usual subjects concerning death, wolves and vampires.

Mistakes aside, My Chemical Romance go beyond what is expected from a band grouped in a genre that encourages bands to sound the same album after album and make one of the most ambitious albums of the year.

Contact ALL editor Andrew Gaug at [email protected].

My Chemical Romance

The Black Parade

Directed by Tim Burton

Released by Warner Bros. Records

Stater rating (out of five): * * *