Real-Time Review: The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance
The End.: Okay, so in honour of Gerard Way’s first solo album, I’m going back to look at his most seminal work with MCR, The Black Parade. Keep your arms inside the vehicle; this might get sentimental. Because I will turn into a fifteen-year-old again.
We kick this off with The End., a huge, Broadway style number for all the people who bought the album after hearing Welcome to The Black Parade. It’s a thrilling start, though, and by the time it reaches it’s climax, you’ve decided whether you’re going to like this album or not. I pick yes.
Dead!: Right, so this is one of my favourite songs of all time- and remains to this day one of the only songs I can play competently on bass- so I might be biased. But it’s the placement of this song that’s so perfect. It’s got a maniacal energy that lifts the pace after the dour beats of The End, and is one of the most stereotypical pop-punk songs on the album. If we’re on the subject of Gerard, by the way, I’ll point out that this is one of his finest performances in-studio ever. He’s in his element here.
This is How I Dissapear- A scrappy, all-over the place song that fills out the whack of genres on show in this album (I think all the songs fall into rock, pop-punk, and musical theatre, and will indicate thusly). This is honest-to-goodness rock- totally straight-faced, big on the walls of guitar over the chorus, and with a distinct verse-chorus-bridge structure. Look, I would put this amongst the weaker songs on the album, and I’d still choose this over a full Fall Out Boy album any day. That bridge-all arcing vocals and stripped-back accompaniment- is masterful. Take one shot for Way’s first proper scream of the album.
The Sharpest Lives: We stick firmly in rock here, with a predatory track. It’s big on atmosphere, just stopping short of histrionic over the bridge, with an instantly memorable chorus and appropriately placed random sexy noises. Another shot for that random shout just before the bridge.
Welcome to the Black Parade: This song has a special place in my heart because it was the one that got my Dad into MCR. While my mum and brother were snorting in derision and listening to Jesus and Mary Chain, I showed my Dad this number. I wandered off to do something else, and by the time I came back he had decided he was borrowing this album. Like me, he appreciated how big this song was- nearly enveloping the whole album in it’s wake, in fact. From that call to arms of an opening to the punky middle ground, this is a modern classic. A proper career-defining hit for the already well-respected band.
I Don’t Love You: This song has the bad luck of winding up right after the hugest track on The Black Parade and I Don’t Love You tends to get lost in the slipstream a bit when you listen to it on the album. As a song by itself, however, it’s brilliant- a properly ballsy spurned love ballad that’s brimming with vitriol that spills over as the song goes on. Two shots for Way’s “Like I loved you yester-DAAAAAAA-HAAAAAAY-HAY-WOAH-WOAH” in the bridge.
House of Wolves: This is a mess of a song, really- it’s all over the place lyrically, and everything seems barely reigned it. But it’s used to great effect, for one of the most memorable songs on the album-this is canine in it’s ferocity, thanks in a big part to Iero and Toro’s almost glam-rock guitar work. I count three screams, so get pouring.
Cancer: Because my dad is a secret emo, this was one of his favourites off the album. To be honest, I can see why- in many ways, this is actually the centrepeice of the album. Landing right in the middle, it’s a deeply emotional, quiet but not unassuming number that helps pull together a lot of the anarchy going on around it.
Mama: And if we’re talking about anarchy, it’s handy that Mama comes next. A vaudeville number featuring Liza Minelli, it’s builds up from a discomforting nothing into a goggle-eyed something. Drink for as long as that scream around three minutes in lasts.
Sleep: Hey, do you want to hear Gerard Way talking about the night terrors he was having while making the album? No? Well, it’s okay because you can do as many shots as you want to keep up with the screeching in this stage-dominating rock number. It carries on the slightly unhinged nature of the last track, keeping a few tabs on it to allow for an awesome instrumental showcase.
Teenagers: Does this necessarily fit into the theme of the album? No. But I couldn’t give the most minuscule of fucks. You must have heard this by now, and if not, do so- it’s Smells Like Teen Spirit for the self-aware millennial generation, a rocky, sulky number with a simple structure that shows off just how well put together this song in. Perfection.
Disenchanted: It sounds more like a finale than the finale necesarily does, but Disenchanted still comes off as one of the highlights of the album. A less celebratory reflection of Welcome to the Black Parade, it starts quiet and slow and grows into this grand statement of satisfaction, with a rich vocal line and strong lyrics. Drink your troubles away.
Famous Last Words: I was never quite sure why this earned single status, a great song though it is, as it seems so out of place anywhere but the end of this album. It’s a big, rocky number, Way having hit his stride with cetaintity here. He inhabiting a character, and that character was born to play this song- going between stifled low points and declarations of life in one fell swoop, it’s a cracking ending.
Blood: Ah, the end credits of The Black Parade. A little, silly, throwaway slice of fun, a prancing pony of a vaudeville number. This needs more airtime. Finish the bottle as Way sings “…such an awful fuuuck!”
Best Songs: Dead!, Welcome to the Black Parade, Mama, oh who am I kidding all of them really.
Worst songs: Pushed I’d have to say How I Dissapear.
In a Sentence: Whatever your preconceptions about MCR, this album is a tremendous piece of twenty-first century musical history.
Out of Ten: Ten