My Chemical Romance - <em>The Black Parade</em>
New Jersey’s biggest consumers of eye makeup (and that’s saying quite a lot), My Chemical Romance endeared themselves to depressed teenagers everywhere with 2004’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (Reprise), their goth-friendly major-label debut. But on The Black Parade (Reprise), frontman Gerard Way and his bandmates demonstrated that they weren’t satisfied with simply serving as Hot Topic poster children; now they’re after nothing less than saving lives. In shakier hands, Way’s patron-saint shtick would seem unbearably self-important, like the work of a kid inspired by the sales of Green Day’s American Idiot (whose Rob Cavallo helmed Parade) instead of its message. But because he performs the role with such conviction — and because he’s shored up by his band’s searing Broadway-punk arrangements — Way manages to make the Pied Piper thing look like an act of selflessness. If you’re being honest with yourself, it’s not easy to doubt Way’s seriousness about providing hope to a motley crew he describes as “the broken, the beaten, and the damned.” That hardcore commitment (as well as a cameo by Liza Minnelli) is what caused you to award The Black Parade with Best Album honors.
— Mikael Wood
by MATT ASHARE