The Black Parade

My Chemical Romance

Reprise, 2006

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


For the past few years, Rob Cavallo has been the Sean Payton of the pop music world. Much like Payton’s work with the New Orleans Saints, Cavallo has been known for seeing talent in players that have been all but ignored by others. And like Payton, Cavallo has a knack for tapping into this talent and producing surprising results.

In 2004, Cavallo worked a miracle for Green Day with American Idiot. Even though he was a longtime producer for Green Day, American Idiot was an unexpected commercial and artistic smash. With that album, Cavallo helped Green Day develop into an angry, politically charged band that seemed perfectly at home performing with U2 at the Saints' home opener this year (which they won). Now, Cavallo can be credited for helping turn a pop-goth band from New Jersey into a *gulp* mature band that may have created the most miserably fun hard rock album of the year.

My Chemical Romance toured with Green Day during the band’s American Idiot tour. And possibly taking inspiration from that album, My Chemical Romance’s latest album The Black Parade is a loosely-based concept album about death, alienation, broken families and cancer. It’s also one of the most sample-heavy albums to come around since the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique. True, it’s not a direct lift from previous songs, but there are enough moments that one thinks the band should pay royalties to its heroes (namely, Queen, Pink Floyd and a ton of ‘80s hard rock and metal). So, for those with little to no accounting backgrounds, here’s what the royalty breakdown would be like:

Song 1 – “The End”
The album kicks off with the main character in the hospital, which is a perfect setting for over-the-top, bitter drama. Frank Iero’s and Ray Toro’s jarring, acoustic introduction sound like something from Bright Eyes before Bob Bryar’s percussion kicks the song into the “In The Flesh” Pink Floyd realm of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Wall.  The verdict: 10 percent of the sales from this song should go to Conor Oberst and 25 percent to Pink Floyd.

Song 3 – “This is How I Disappear”
For all of the “are they goth or are they emo?” debate, it’s odd that the chorus of this song could easily be at home on an early-'80s Pat Benatar song. The verdict: 35 percent of the sales should go to Benatar.

Song 4 – “The Sharpest Lives”
Since Bon Jovi came from the same state as My Chemical Romance, I will cut some slack to the band. It could have been subliminal, but somehow the chorus sounds like Bon Jovi’s “Runaway” with better lyrics. The verdict: 20 percent of the sales should go to Bon Jovi.

Song 6 – “I Don’t Love You” and Song 8 – “Cancer”
The power ballads from MCR, and because of the band’s edgier roots and Way’s dead-on wails, this is not your typical sappy ballad. Think Skid Row, not Cinderella. Not to be content with totally reveling in the ‘80s, “I Don’t Love You”’s features a guitar riff that’s vaguely similar to the intro of Coldplay’s “Yellow.” The verdict: 50 percent to Sebastian Bach and 5 percent of the sales from “I Don’t Love You” to Coldplay.

Song 9 – “Mama”
Taking cue from the Gorillaz’s casting coups from Demon Days (Ike Turner, anyone?), MCR enlists Liza Minelli – and it actually works. And taking another cue from Pink Floyd, mother issues are all over this one. The verdict: 5 percent to Gorillaz and 20 percent should go to Pink Floyd.

Song 12 – “Disenchanted”
Actually, this is the most original song by the band. Probably without coincidence, it’s the least interesting song on the album. The verdict: 100 percent of the proceeds of this song should go to the band.

Hidden track - "?"
Needless to say, the hidden track is too funny to reveal. Without giving much away, let’s just say that 30 percent of the sales from this track need to go to Tim Burton and about 5 percent to The Simpsons’ songwriting team during their “Treehouse Of Horror” specials.

For those that are worried about whether My Chemical Romance is to goth music what The Darkness is to heavy metal, fear not -- the band is dead serious in their message, even though some of their best songs have firm tongue-in-cheek humor. And sometimes a song with a chorus like “Teenagers scare the living shit out of me” (bonus points to the band for including the cowbell in the song) is more immediate and vital than a bookish, off-tune chorus by Sufjan Stevens. Drop your cynicism for 45 minutes and turn your car stereo up: your morose, self-pitying, video-game worshipping, comic-book reading, A Nightmare Before Christmas-worshipping inner teenage child has just found its soundtrack for 2006.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B-



© 2006 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise, and is used for informational purposes only.