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An emo band with substance

Kristian Bindern
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Nov 03/06) - My Chemical Romance have certainly had their share of derision hurled their way, being dismissed as disposable pop-punk for the emo kids and a band of little substance.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Kristian Bindern is an Inuvik resident and periodic music critic of for the Drum

Expertly crafted videos of dejected boys in eyeliner moaning about the miseries of life hasn't won My Chemical Romance a lot of "serious" music fans, much the same as peers like Panic!

At The Disco and Fall Out Boy. I'll be the first to admit that I do enjoy the above noted, despite being out of my teenage years. Maybe it's a case of leftover teenage angst, or maybe I just appreciate the catchiness, but I often really dig these bands. All that being said, it's certainly apparent that My Chemical Romance have elevated themselves to another level, towering over their peers with The Black Parade.

The Black Parade is a concept album, revolving around the final moments of a character known as The Patient, dying of cancer and reflecting on an all-too-short life. Surprisingly, it doesn't come off as overtly pretentious, with such weighty subject matter it certainly could/should have.

If the opener The End doesn't immediately conjure images of The Wall, you haven't listened to enough Pink Floyd. While The End comes dangerously close to being a facsimile of In The Flesh, it quickly segues into Dead, a track akin to Green Day's American Idiot. The similarity isn't a coincidence; both albums share the same producer, a controversial choice for some.

However, let it be said that despite the comparisons, The Black Parade isn't a poor man's tribute to successful albums past. No, everything here is undeniably My Chemical Romance in sound, and such comparisons are meant only to exemplify the degree to which MCR have succeeded in crafting their vision.

The record is full of huge hooks, songs like Teenagers and Mama sound almost cabaret (Liza Minnelli actually makes a guest appearance!), and despite the dark subject matter it manages to be fun and funny, while remaining heartfelt. The energy manages to sit comfortably alongside the somber fare like Cancer and I Don't Love You, a song destined to be a huge hit, complete with a Brian May-style guitar solo!

In the end, a track-by-track analysis of The Black Parade isn't necessary. I say this because, at the risk of sounding pretentious myself, the record is really best enjoyed whole. Or more simply, once you start listening you won't want to stop. An epic without being overly long, The Black Parade is one of the finest albums of 2006.

This is a Sgt. Pepper for a new generation, but rather than a playground of irreverent escapism, the listener is forced to confront feelings they'd rather not face.

Hopefully, we all walk away with the sentiment that, in the end, everything will be OK.