Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

My Chemical Romance used to be so sad, they could make your cold goth heart bleed. On 2006's The Black Parade, Gerard Way wailed about cancer and misery, emerging as a savior for the broken and the damned. Now, he's dyed his hair fiery red, and he's pissed at everyone: junkies, party girls, Hollywood and most of all himself, for getting so damn famous. "When you want to be a movie star/Play the game and take the band real far/Play it right and drive a Volvo car/Pick a fight at an airport bar," Way scoffs on the dirty-garage scorcher "Vampire Money."

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That bad attitude suits this synth-laced album, which plays like a love letter to all the juvie-hall grads and Ritalin rats still waiting for someone to build a bomb big enough to blow all the pop bands off the airwaves. Somewhere between the metal- messiah riffs of " Destroya" and the Red Bull-fueled stomp of "Bulletproof Heart," Danger Days offers a total rejection of bloated celebrity rock. Intercut with fake radio-DJ skits (supposedly transmissions from a post-apocalyptic radio station) and powered by spite for rock-star clichés, MCR trade their signature Broadway-musical theatricality for simple loud-fast defiance. "Sing it out for the ones that'll hate your guts!" Way declares. But it's gonna be hard to get people to hate songs like "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)," an anthem that taunts (nyah, nyah!) you even as it gets you to sing along.

From The Archives Issue 1118: November 25, 2010