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My Chemical Romance

The Black Parade (Reprise)

Ever get the feeling that modern rock is now all about one-upmanship? The Killers are reaching for Springsteen's lofty heights. Panic! at the Disco is augmenting its stage show with a veritable burlesque troupe. And emo heroes such as Taking Back Sunday are slapping on enough production gloss to kill Stock, Aitken, and Waterman. But while reaching for bigger and better — and ostensibly more profound — things, these baby bands disappoint. Take My Chemical Romance, whose first two albums were gloriously unhinged dark-punk masterpieces beholden to the Misfits, Sabbath, and AFI.

Tragically the New Jersey quintet's latest, The Black Parade, is weighted down by so many ridiculous trappings — glammy piano, overblown power ballads, slick midtempo rockers — it sounds bloated rather than triumphant, generic where it should be groundbreaking. Worse, the group's grandiose artistic statements and pop hooks recycle tired musical ideas: Aerosmith's bluesy shambling ("House of Wolves"), Alkaline Trio's darkness ("This Is How I Disappear"), and Queen's bombast ("Welcome to the Black Parade"). Parade might have fared better not taking itself so seriously; just listen to "Teenagers," a hilarious, catchy, Georgia Satellites-style (no, really) ditty about adolescence. Annie Zaleski

 
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