I’m always somewhat skeptical when someone goes off the chart in praising an album. And so, when David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine jumped into an in-depth review of the latest album from My Chemical Romance (their third), The Black Parade, I was intrigued. Given his praise and my curiousities, I went and picked myself up a copy. Now…I find myself writing this review, also in praise but a little more than that as well.
My Chemical Romance has been around for a few years in this new millennium, more alterna-punk than anything else. However, with this release of The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance is showing a lot of maturity and is painting new signposts for the style of music that is slipping in as the thing to hear. What I like about this is that it brings post-30s adults and a much younger audience together in music. Why? Because the music that we older folks love is the now the music preferred by the younger, more trend-setting age group, and The Black Parade is a very effective bridge of that age gap.
The Black Parade is a conceptual album that recalls shimmers of Queen, Pink Floyd, Cheap Trick, Bowie, and a few other ‘70s institutions. Although borrowing influence, My Chemical Romance has still produced a classic that is not only enduring but also is equally genius in finding a voice that represents the band. It isn’t just a process whereby you throw words together and some music to carry it, hoping that it sticks in the consciousness; you have to become the music. My Chemical Romance has jumped into the production of this album a la David Bowie, whose onstage personas often matched the music he was creating in a theatre of rock.
The album begins with an intro that is an invitation to join the parade, in this case, the experience of The Black Parade. The song, aptly called “The End,” begins this concept album that is a look at the act of dying and whatever afterlife there may be. With songs as fun and brilliantly put together as “Mama,” “The End,” and the superb “…teenagers scare the living shit out of me, they could care less as long as someone’ll bleed…” of “Teenagers,” you find that the musicians are an accomplished and studied bunch, vocally, musically, and theatrically. There’s even a great cabaret-styled tune in a hidden track after the end of “Famous Last Words” (be patient, it starts after about 1:30 minutes of silence.)
Right now, there are several ways that this album is approached. First, by fans of MCR, who have differing opinions of how their band has matured. Then there are the various age groups who view eras of music in a variety of ways. And then there are people like myself who are fascinated by what they’re hearing. I realize that I’ve rambled here throughout this review but let me summarize by this, if you’ve enjoyed conceptual Alice Cooper, and the subject studies of Pink Floyd, and you have legitimate years to your life (read: you were a teen in the ‘70s), then you may find a lot of joy and fun in The Black Parade. For me, it’s been hard to take The Black Parade out of the player. With every play, I become more endeared.