Amy Butterworth reminisces upon My Chemical Romance following their return
“If life ain’t just a joke / then why am I dead?” Life may still be a joke, but our four beloved New Jersey-born ‘emo’ superstars are dead no more; that’s right, My Chemical Romance have risen from the ashes. It’s time to smudge on the thick black eyeliner, tease your hair to gravity-defying heights, and remind your parents that “it’s not just a phase!”; after all, did any of us really leave the Black Parade?
After giving their social media a cryptic makeover, the band made the shocking, culturally defining announcement that they are reuniting for one show in California, as well as being welcomed back with open arms by Download Festival. Whispers of world tours and new music can be heard in the distance, but for the moment, this is (unfortunately) only hearsay.
Clearly everyone is reminiscing of their angsty teenage years, as My Chemical Romance return to their rightful place in the top 500 listened-to artists on Spotify. And, since delving back into the elusive waters of their varied discography, it’s clear how much they epitomise the early 2000s rock-scene, despite traversing through a myriad of genres.
Delving back into the elusive waters of their varied discography, it’s clear how they epitomise the early 2000s rock-scene
Their debut album I Brought You Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love brought grungey, raging, thrashy guitars and hoarse, hurting, refreshingly raw vocals, intensified by infrequent but much-needed backing vocal screams. They grouped in a post 9/11 world, discussed in the track ‘Sunsets and Turnstiles’, which Way wrote after witnessing the terrorist attack firsthand: “this broken city like butane on my skin”. Unrelentingly morbid, archetypes of vampires and zombies make an appearance in tracks ‘Sunsets over Monroeville’ and ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’, in which I swoon at its vitriolic splendour.
It’s an album that flounders from song to song – their succeeding album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge brings cohesion and maturity. Their modern pop-punk has aggression, a maturity, but also an accessibility that Bullets lacked. It was bigger budget, featuring the classics like ‘I’m Not Okay’ (my teenage anthem) and ‘Helena’. There’s bigger, more developed sounds and features the hallmarks of what brought them into the public eye in their following album The Black Parade.
The Black Parade is the quintessential ‘emo’ album of the era, it’s their raison d’etre. Savour the rock-meets-opera conceptually driven narrative of the album, the tight cohesion is ostentatious, but impressive. It follows the story of The Patient and his tragic premature death, his journey onto the Black Parade, as well as a whistle-stop tour of his life. It’s musical theatre at worst, high-concept art at best. The emotion feels authentic in songs such as ‘This Is How I Disappear’ and ‘Disenchanted’, and ‘I Don’t Love You’’s sickly sweetness has the redolence of sardonicism. ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ is a modern masterpiece – it’s over-the-top, self-indulgent, loud, tuneful, but deceivingly fun.
We can’t ignore that the band announced their return at a politically pertinent moment
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys combines future-pop with post-apocalyptic conceptualising. The electro-glam of ‘Planetary (GO!)’ melds seamlessly with the tasteful pop of ‘Summertime’ and punk-reminiscent ‘Vampire Money’ and ‘Na Na Na’. Angry at society, defiant against the conceptual totalitarian regime, it’s intriguing how relevant this album feels now. In fact, we can’t ignore that the band announced their return at a politically pertinent moment. Gerard Way, singer, admits he had reconsidered the band’s comeback when Trump was inaugurated; perhaps their return was catalysed by the threat of the far-right, eco-anxiety, hell, maybe even Brexit.
Their debut album features the lyrics “and if the world needs something better / Let’s give them one more reason now”; a strand which runs all the way to their last album “everybody wants to change the world but no one wants to die”. The world has never been more fucked – it was high time that My Chemical Romance made their return.