May Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013

My Chemical Romance

Reprise, 2014

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/19/2014

My Chemical Romance broke up just when they were getting interesting.

The band started out as part of the pop punk quagmire of the early 2000s and did little to distinguish itself, although their performances always had a ferocious energy and a bit more gravity than the others, befitting Gerard Way's mission of doing something important with his life post-9/11. But with 2006's The Black Parade, the guys took the leap from kids to artists and were rewarded with critical and commercial success. 2010's Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys was a bit of return to the earlier sound but with added pop sensibility and songwriting maturity. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It would have been fascinating to watch what the guys did next, but that opportunity never came because, aside from "Fake Your Death" (an unreleased new song that starts off this collection), the band called it quits in 2013 for good. One year later, this collection arrived, and it does an admirable job in rounding up the band's handful of hits, rock radio favorites and three old demos from the 2002 I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love sessions.

For those not inclined toward the semi-whiny vocals and pop punk aggression – so, anybody over 14 years old – these songs do little to distinguish themselves, at least until "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" and the layers and great vocals of "The Ghost Of You." By working chronologically, the growth of the band is evident through these songs, as well as the five Black Parade songs that follow.

That album brought out all sorts of comparisons to Queen ("Cancer"), The Wall and the band's own past, and it still holds up very well, especially the funny, deceptively simple hard rock of "Teenagers," the jaunty vaudeville punk "Mama" (with a Liza Minelli cameo!) and the triumphant "Famous Last Words." Equally good are the four songs from Danger Days, including the singalong "Na Na Na," the  efficient, mature adult pop-punk "Sing" (a modern rock radio hit), the Achtung Baby-inspired "The Kids From Yesterday and the colorful neo-disco "Planetary (Go!)."

Most hits collections start strong and wimp out toward the end because they show a band in decline, trying to recreate its original sound, which is why May Death Never Stop You is a refreshing surprise. The weaker tracks at the beginning and the demos from the same time period are not really essential for anyone outside the faithful (which is eight of the 19 tracks), but most others who only know the band from a couple of rock radio songs – if they know the band at all – ought to give the other 11 songs a listen. It's a shame they had to break up.

Rating: B-

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