In 2004 I had just heard of My Chemical Romance’s name and made a quick decision what type of music they played. Assuming that it was just the same old ‘pop punk disguised as goth’ I became to call them My Chemical Tightpants. That was until one fall when I got into my friend Brian’s car and he was listening to The Black Parade.
I immediately thought it might have been the newest Bright Eyes album (which in retrospective is ridiculous because Gerard Way sounds nothing like Conor Oberst vocally, but the songs were so full of orchestration it immediately made me think of albums like Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep your ear to the Ground.
The album is a rock opera like Green Day’s American Idiot or multiple Queen Albums. This particular story follows “The Patient” who is dying of cancer. It tells of the story of his death early on (The End, Dead!) his experience in the afterlife (Welcome to the Black Parade) and his reflections on his life (Cancer, Mama).
The album completely changed my perspective on a band I never gave a fair chance to anyway. My favorite song is still The End. I love the melody and the way the song continues to builds to leading into a big rock out (Dead!). The first few songs are just your standard rock songs but then you get to the first single Welcome to the Black Parade.
I know many friends that absolutely hate this song, but it’s instrumentation has continued to make it one of the most interesting rock songs in modern history (comparable only to Panic At the Disco’s I Write Sins Not Tragedies). The song begins with a simple piano riff and vocals, slowly the rest of the band comes in adding in a marching band vibe, the song continues to build until it explodes into a full fledge rock song. It really is the closest a punk band has ever come to recreating the song structure of Queen (hate all you want classic rock fans, it’s true).
Throughout the album the songs transition into each other nicely, not a single track is wasted on a mediocre song. The album was such a massive success but critically and commercially that it took the band four years to release a follow-up. While it continued to be a concept album and had a few decent songs it definitely didn’t hold up the standard that The Black Parade had set.
Black Parade had a garage rock sound in songs like House of Wolves and meanwhile other songs like The End and Cancer have a legitimate dramatic sadness to them. Hell the song Mama even has elements of polka in it.