My Chemical Romance

Gerard Way offers his critics plenty to ridicule on the latest Romance CD, including unbridled theatricality, more classic-rock nods than even Lenny Kravitz typically offers, and the sort of show-biz shamelessness that hipsters consider terminally uncool. Yet the garish over-the-topness of the entire twisted enterprise is precisely why this disc is so enjoyable. The most memorable material here is the stuff Way pushes much too far -- and then pushes some more.

Comparing one act's music to another's is usually a critic's crutch. But avoiding such references in this case is pointless, since Way glories in getting his Freddie Mercury on throughout "Welcome to the Black Parade," an entertainingly elaborate hunk of bombast, and "Mama," which blends rhapsodic lyrics with a Brechtian melody. And if some of Way's stylistic moves (like the hayseed accent that introduces "The End") don't quite pay off, he strikes the proper balance between celebration and satire on "Teenagers," a power-pop goof that declares, "Teenagers scare the living shit out of me."

Subtlety be damned! Let the Parade begin!


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