Herald rating: 4/5
Queen are alive and well and back in vogue. This time round they're wearing black, brooding and getting all punked up. And the kids are into it, man.
Just kidding. Queen are not back together, but thanks to New Jersey emo-punk band My Chemical Romance, and the pomp of their third album, The Black Parade, it seems outrageous and over-blown rock is back.
This is also a concept album about a cancer victim. On the blatant Cancer, singer Gerard Way sneers "baby I'm just soggy from the chemo, but counting down the days to go".
But it needn't have the baggage of an album inspired by death because from the first acoustic strums of opening track, The End, you're bundled up by the passion, energy and thrill of it all. Apart from the silly knees-up folk punk of Mama, you'll be hooked to the end of the hidden track's cheery refrain "Give them blood, blood, gallons of the stuff, give them all that they can drink and it will never be enough ... ".
But before we go on, a short history about "emo" and My Chemical Romance. Emo is a term to describe emotional punk rock. It's not a new musical genre, dating back 20 years, it's just that, arguably, MCR are the new leaders of it.
In Britain the Daily Mail labelled them the head of the emo "death cult". An over-reaction for sure, but there's no denying the loyalty of fans - a tribe of mostly black clothed, anaemic looking warriors. MCR will be a big drawcard at next year's Big Day Out in Auckland and today The Black Parade debuted at number one on the local charts.
They claim they're not emo. But, The Black Parade, their third album, starts off very emo with Way declaring, "If you look in the mirror and don't like what you see, you can find out first hand what it's like to be me".
The thing is, they're emo and much, much more. The Black Parade is one of those addictive toe-tapping and sing-a-long albums that make you feel 10 or 15 years younger. The kids are all right, and they know what they're on about.
It is produced by Rob Cavallo who did Green Day's American Idiot. Like that album it will find a new audience outside punk-pop and emo circles because of songs like the magical I Don't Love You (think Freddie Mercury doing Oasis' Champagne Supernova with Green Day as a backing band). Gut-wrenchingly sad vocals, stirring guitar, and just hammy enough to make it lovable.
On album highlight, Welcome To The Black Parade, the first two minutes has Queen, and Brian May's guitar especially, written all over it and then it takes off into jumped-up punk rock. What follows is the rollicking Dead!, The Sharpest Lives (which starts like Kids In America), and the ballsy House Of Wolves, making this one of the albums of the year.