My Chemical Romance – Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004)

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by Mark Saleski

One of the things the really bugged me about the whole “modern rock” and Nu-metal era (is it over yet?) was the sameness. Not just that a lot of the bands sounded the same, but that the songs themselves tended to be extremely homogeneous from start to finish.

Sure, there was the slow part in the middle (which we used to call the “bridge” and it was there to connect the musical parts, not just take up space). Maybe even a slow part with a coupla turntable scritchy-scratches. But that’s it. The fast part, followed by the slow part. Or maybe the angry part, then the not-quite-as-angry part.

So, the new garage bands (the White Stripes, Hives, Jet, etc.) came along to breathe some fresh air into a pretty danged stale scene. One listen to Jet’s Get Born and I was transported back to a time when groups were not afraid to present multiple styles to their audience. Paralleling the “modern rock” thing was the Californi-punk scene. Fronted (at least in my mind) by Green Day, some of the same staleness was allowed to creep in with way too many skankin’, harmonizing rockers extruding the same ‘product.’

Ah, but what happens when a group comes along dragging elements of garage, “modern rock”, neo-punk with them? Well, in one case you get My Chemical Romance.

On first listen, I was thinking of Less Than Jake … sort of. One the one hand, there’s the furious four-chord workouts and tight harmonies. On the other … all sorts of surprises. The vocals swallowed and spit out of “Give ‘Em Hell Kid” (which makes me think of the White Stripes). The frenetic, almost Queens of the Stone Age “To The End.” “I’m Not OKAY (I Promise),” which starts off very much like Andrew W.K. before turning into one of those anthemic, singalong-type things (despite the not-so-happy lyrics). The pretty much Anthrax-ish intro to “Thank You For The Venom.” “Hang ‘Em High” teases you with an Ennio Morricone motif before blowing up in your face. “Cemetery Drive” recalls early Cure (at least at first).

There’s a lot going on here, and I don’t intend all of the band name-checking to mean that My Chemical Romance has nothing of their own to say. Not all all. They’ve clearly absorbed all sorts of modern influences, internalizing them and transforming them into, well … something else.

One thing’s for sure, it ain’t boring.

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