My Chemical Romance's comeback music is truly the antidote we n

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    My Chemical Reaction's newly released The Foundations of Decay prima facie appears to be a return to their emo roots but is a sonically mature outing.

    In TheMusicThatMadeUs, senior journalist Lakshmi Govindrajan Javeri chronicles the impact that musicians and their art have on our lives, how they mould the industry by rewriting its rules and how they shape us into the people we become: their greatest legacies

    My Chemical Romance’s delayed comeback is, in fact, a blessing in disguise. Returning to a post-lockdown world that is embroiled in multiple hues of personal transformations, MCR’s postponed reunion tour couldn’t have been timed better. After announcing their comeback gig in 2019, their plans—much likes ours—hadn’t factored a pandemic that forced people to stay home, lose jobs, home-school their children and grapple with a spiralling sense of hopelessness.

    In short, the perfect breeding ground for the manifestation of a new generation of the emo experience. While vocalist Gerard Way has doggedly denied the band’s emo shades, fans of MCR are united in their appreciation for the music that delves deeply into emotional expression. Way has been dismissive of emo as a rock music genre itself, preferring to highlight the rock operatic nature of their songwriting and compositions.

    Harnessing elements of funk, pop, hard rock, goth and alternative rock, MCR has been unique in taking intimate, confessional lyrics and giving them a more theatrical vocalisation under Gerard Way’s command. Their immensely popular Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge was a turning point in the way the band was perceived.

    Starting out with the rawness of a rock band that’s eager to break the then contemporary emo-meets-post punk mould, MCR attained worldwide acclaim with Three Cheers, an album that exuded everything that the emo movement stood for. Heartfelt emotional lyrics that combined introspection and admission, held together by the robust guitaring of punk seeing an interplay of hard and soft elements of the genre forms a distinct nature of emo. Yet with prog rock’s predisposition for unorthodox song structures and extreme shifts in sonic style, emo was literally a band and its instrument wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

    The brooding sense of existence is projected in the moody, emotionally tense songwriting and the vocal screaming only heightens the fundamentals of the genre. With their third album, The Black Parade, the band showcases a world where emo, alternative rock, post-hardcore and punk rock of the 2000s find their roots in influences from 1970s classic rock, glam rock, pop, and gothic rock.

    This ran parallel with the resurgence of the next generation of emo fans who started to sport the flat, black straight hair look with black kohl-lined eyes, skinny pants and tight tees. Naturally, such fandom follows the cyclical nature of being an outlier in society; where the idea of not fitting in inspires music that fans relate to, only to have the fans stand out for being off mainstream even in an uber niche genre like alternative rock.

    My Chemical Romance aren’t alone in finding such devoted fans for the honesty of emotion that their music portrays. Bands like Fall Out Boy, AFI, The Used and even Panic! At The Disco too saw their fans unite in the relatability that these emo bands provided.

    This underground emo culture stemmed from social isolation, angst, and even misanthropy. With rising cases of suicide, depression, and self-harm, bands like MCR started to distance themselves from the “emo” word and openly denounced any association with it.

    That may have worked tactically for the band but the sense of community that fanhood offers cannot be rebranded on the whim of an artist. Particularly one that is immensely influenced by the likes of Queen, The Cure, Joy Division and even the appropriately titled, Misfits. Queen’s energy and love for grandeur emanates through the band’s third album The Black Parade.

    Concept albums aren’t new in rock and roll, with every decade throwing up some monumental, path-breaking pieces of work, Think Sgt Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band (The Beatles), The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (David Bowie), The Wall (Pink Floyd), Tommy (The Who) …you get the point. One time a rock staple of the 1970s, the concept album or rock opera in this case made a resounding resurgence in the 2000s with The Black Parade, introducing newer, angstier audiences to it.

    Their newly released The Foundations of Decay prima facie appears to be a return to their emo roots but is a sonically mature outing.

    With the band finally completing its short set of concerts, MCR’s reunion is a very optimistic sign in this post-pandemic world. We’ve emerged on the other side with our emotions fraught and a new sense of existentialism. Against this backdrop, an evolved My Chemical Romance with new music is truly the antidote we need.


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