"Hallelujah, lock and load!": My Chemical Romance

"Bad news from the Zone, tumbleweeds."

News broke last week, I think it was, about the disbanding of My Chemical Romance. I did not cry, and it did not ruin my day, but it did give me a kind of saggy feeling in my heart, and I had to text a few people to spread the news.

Yes. This may discredit absolutely everything I have said so far but I am about to tell you the truth: I thought My Chemical Romance was pretty awesome.

There are a lot of elements I like about their music. But I think it's something about Gerard Way's vocals that especially engage me. In my private mental world, when I close my eyes and pretend I'm a rock star on a big stage, strutting and sneering and crowing, he is what I sound like. He's my secret alter-ego. Eyeliner, gothy rendition of a Sgt. Pepper uniform, and that sharp voice- like crossing Brian Molko's pipes with a cheese grater and a jet pack. (I know, this fantasy might sound weirdly anticlimactic. Kind of like if you found out that Rob Zombie wears footy pajamas. Of course, you might think that would be awesome. In which case, I will imagine you in the audience next time I imagine I am Gerard Way.)

It definitely happened slowly. I really rather liked "Helena" from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, which was arguably their breakout song from their unarguably breakout album. I was crazy about the video. (It was that one and The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" that I ended up buying- when you love something, you'll pay for it even if you could get it for free on YouTube.) But even now I'm not sure I'd like, heartily recommend Three Cheers. It's very.... Oh, yes. Emo. That is the word. The ugly word that turns every thinking person off of a band. But honestly, what else could you call an album that has songs like "It's Not A Fashion Statement, It's A Deathwish" or "Thank You For the Venom"... which is our title track tonight, by the way, and also a decent tune. It's a good example of its kind, though, for what it's worth.

I think what clung to me about that album, besides the aforementioned video, was a track called "Ghost of You" that I really liked, without even knowing the artist. I remember waking up from a dream the morning after my eighteenth birthday with that song in my head. I asked my sister if she knew it and I hummed a few bars. She raised an eyebrow and said "That's MCR."


"My Chemical Romance."

Oh. Tres embarrassing. I wasn't an emo kid. I didn't like that stuff. I decided to tell no one.

But that kept happening. Every time I heard an MCR song I always found myself going "This ain't half bad" and then groaning when I found out the artist. So at last I caved and bought The Black Parade.

Which is a very different animal from Three Cheers.

The Black Parade is a cool little gem. It moved away from the melodrama on the previous album and moved more toward a concept album, lyrically. (I heard of a critic saying Roger Waters should sue for the story rights.) And it moved away from definitive "emo" and leaned toward glam rock, sonically. Don't get me wrong, it's still rough and punky but there's some extra swagger in there and it's great. Inexplicably great.

After I quietly came to the realization that I may in fact, LIKE My Chemical Romance, I confided this to my friend Alex, who has excellent and eclectic taste of his own. I knew he wouldn't judge me, see. In fact, he went out and listened to the album and came back as favorably impressed as I had. That made 2 of us, secret fans of the former emo band My Chemical Romance.

And then came Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Which, I think, was even better than Black Parade. The whole album I love unabashedly. But if you don't believe me, listen to "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W" which sounds a little like a nursery rhyme from the dystopian post-apocalyptic future... Which is the setting of the album, by the way. This album also contains the unexpectedly beautiful "Sing" which that abomination Glee took and made into a super hit. (It's ok, I guess. You gotta sell out sometime, huh, guys? "Gimme gimme some of that vampire money, c'mon!")

The handfuls of music they released last year lean toward the earlier stuff, which as I mentioned, leaves me kinda cold compared to the concept albums. For being a return to that form, I'd venture to say it's better than the older work- they've learned a few tricks in the last few years. But it's too late for me, I'm already their fan. I would have borne with whatever they flung me, and given it a fair chance to grow on me.

And now they are no more. Yes, it's over. And I am sad. Maybe most sad that I didn't run off impetuously to Los Angeles to see them the last time their tour brought them close to me, which was for Danger Days. Alex and I toyed with the idea but ultimately we didn't. And now, there is nothing else to do but step up and say yes, I liked that band. I liked them a lot. I genuinely hope that we have not heard the last of these guys.

"Keep your boots tight, keep your gun close, and die with your mask on if you's got to."

Their body of work is available to hear on Spotify, with the exception of what came before Three Cheers (an album called I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love).

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