'The Black Parade' Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews The Black Parade, the third album by the New Jersey quintet My Chemical Romance. Their dark musical approach has gotten them labeled as an "emo" band.
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'The Black Parade'

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'The Black Parade'

'The Black Parade'

'The Black Parade'

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Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews The Black Parade, the third album by the New Jersey quintet My Chemical Romance. Their dark musical approach has gotten them labeled as an "emo" band.

TERRY GROSS, Host:

My Chemical Romance is a New Jersey quintet whose dark musical approach has gotten them labeled as an emo band, a term referring to their general down-beat world view. The band's new third studio album is called "The Black Parade," and rock critic Ken Tucker says it's a more pleasurable experience than their reputation might suggest.

(SOUNDBITE FROM "THE SHARPEST LIVES")

GERARD WAY: END OF SOUNDBITE

KEN TUCKER: My Chemical Romance has made a big, messy, pretentious album that turns out to be what the band probably did not intend, a lot of fun. Which is to say, when you fill your album with bombastic hymns to death and loneliness, when you give interview citing Queen and System of a Down as your inspirations, you're out to impress, not merely amuse. But there is nothing merely amusing about "The Black Parade." It's loaded with ringing guitar chords and the kind of squawking crescendos that make for a hard rock collection you want to shout along with as you run down the street with the band bellowing from your iPod.

(SOUNDBITE FROM "HOUSE OF WOLVES")

WAY: END OF SOUNDBITE

TUCKER: Lead singer Gerard Way has white blond hair and the upturned chin hauteur of a man who wears rock stardom like a uniform. Like, in fact, the tight, black dandyish suits that My Chemical Romance currently wears on stage as symbols of their bleak integrity. Clearly, these are men on a mission to remind you how much heartbreak really aches. Nowhere is this more obvious than on "Welcome to the Black Parade," clearly conceived as a grand statement. "Black Parade" comes complete with shifts in tempo into the sort of grandiose baroque that puts a smile on your face while their faces grimace and pout.

(SOUNDBITE FROM "WELCOME TO THE BLACK PARADE")

WAY: END OF SOUNDBITE

TUCKER: The tone and timbre of Gerard Way's voice on that cut, as well as the rock operatic swell of the music comprise My Chemical Romance's clearest homage to Queen, the '70s rock band led by the similarly over-reaching Freddie Mercury. We used to have a name for this sort of stuff back then, pomp rock, as in pompous. To counteract this, the band employs producer Rob Cavallo, who keeps Green Day sounding punktastic. He helps to prevent Chemical Romance music from becoming mired in dolorousness. Together, they turn out good power ballads such as this one, "I Don't Love You."

(SOUNDBITE FROM "I DON'T LOVE YOU")

WAY: END OF SOUNDBITE

TUCKER: The chief flaw in My Chemical Romance's method are their verbal cliches. So much talk of death, isolation, pain, blood, betrayal, lies, infection, even cancer. Such overstatement is tiresome. As I said at the start, the comforting effect may not be what they originally intended in getting so hot and bothered and ambitious, but it sure feels good.

GROSS: CREDITS

GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE FROM "FAMOUS LAST WORDS")

WAY: END OF SOUNDBITE

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Album
The Black Parade
Artist
My Chemical Romance
Label
Reprise/WEA
Released
2006

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