Thursday, 2 November 2006

A Bleak, Black Parade of Brilliant Morbidity


From the moment the beep, beep and the first verses of The End started, I was captivated by the whole mood of My Chemical Romance's newest album, The Black Parade.

It was certainly not what I expected, especially judging from their last album, which may have had a few good songs like Helena, but was not much different from an album by those wannabe emo rock bands like Hoobastank or Simple Plan or Good Charlotte, just a little more angsty, that’s all.

Personally, it's been a while since I've heard a proper, rock album that I really liked. I'm not talking about those emo-emo Snow Patrol & Jimmy Eat World records I'm obsessed with, and not those pop-ish Brit-rock Bloc Party Orson shit. I mean rock records, with lots of guitar play, and those you don't bloody DANCE to, but HEADBANG to. Pearl Jam's newest album didn't really do it for me, and The Foo Fighter's In Your Honour was bogged down by that second disc of sleepifying songs.

In fact, the last rock album I'd really like was Green Day's American Idiot, but that was two years ago, and is STILL on rotation on my CD player.

To tell the truth, The Black Parade has been compared to American Idiot a lot. Mostly because both albums have the same producer, and The Black Parade follows a similar theme as American Idiot - where Green Day told the story of St. Jimmy, My Chemical Romance tells the bleak and morbid story of The Patient, a cancer stricken patient who tells us about his life from the deathbed.

However, the difference between this and American Idiot is that My Chemical Romance's album plays itself out more like a musical than Green Day's. Every single song, and the sequence it follows sounds like the soundtrack of a Tim Burton musical.

It's as if the band decided to make their own version of the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack - making their songs sound both whimsical, carnival-like and dark and bleak at the same time (Check out the bonus track at the end - Blood. That's the sort of song that Burton would have put in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

The result is an album that is rocks hard but bleakly, and is addictively morbid. The lyrics may be bloody morbid, but the songs are brilliant.

Welcome to The Black Parade is one of the best songs this year for me. It brought me back to the first time I heard Green Day's Jesus of Suburbia, the different segments of the song combining together to make a brilliantly uplifting song, veering from slow, to fast, to a marching beat, and the ending with a brilliant uplifting tone.

Another of my favorites is the final song - Famous Last Words. It's the kind of song I absolutely LOVE screaming in the car when I'm in a bad mood. Also helps that it's damn catchy.

Other songs like Mama, Teenagers and Blood, all sound so... SARCASTICLLY and CYNICALLY happy that you can practically TASTE the sarcasm and cynicism dripping from the speakers. These are the songs that sound most as if they should have been in a Disney musical or something, if it wasn't for the really morbid and depressing lyrics and all the rage in the vocals.

Heck, even the slower songs like Cancer, Disenchanted (the best ballad on the album) and Sleep are tinged with so much angsty energy that you are left in no doubt that the song is not just ANY love song.

True, some of the slower songs here sound like the sort that Good Charlotte or Simple Plan might come up with, but where the song would have just been another bloody love song in the hands of those insipid (and I mean this with the full dosage of venom) bands, in the hands of My Chemical Romance, with the lead singer's snarling, sneering vocals, and the morbid lyrics, they become so much, much more memorable.

True to its title, The Black Parade is a whole carnival-like parade of depressed, angsty emotions, spilling over from one song to the other, like some kind of morbid Tim Burton musical.

It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me, after just two listens, it's become one of my favorite albums of 2006.

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