"A SYSTEM FAILURE for the masses! Antimatter for the master plan! Louder than God's revolver, and twice as shiny! This one's for all you rock 'n' rollers, all you crash queens and motor babies!"
With that bit of vaguely post-apocalyptic gibberish—giddily, melodramatically delivered by someone calling himself "Dr. Death Defying"—My Chemical Romance's Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys begins, and if you're one of the swooning, teenage emo girls who'll be packed into the Roseland this weekend, you already know it by heart. If you're one of them, you can casually refer to "MCR" or "My Chem," but if you're like me—an ancient, 31-year-old husk of a man who owns not a single bottle or can or whatever it is that guyliner comes in—you're better off calling them My Chemical Romance. Actually, unless you're one of those emo teenage girls, My Chemical Romance is rarely spoken of, period—and even if you are one of those girls, it's probably better to text about My Chem anyway. MCR musings lose a certain something if they aren't punctuated with Xs, Os, and :'(s.
Considering My Chemical Romance are one of the last domestic rock bands that can still sell millions of albums, and considering how good they are, it's strange they aren't talked about more. So, back to Danger Days: Along with its required-viewing music video (for the fittingly titled single "Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na]"), Danger Days is a post-apocalyptic saga following the Fabulous Killjoys, My Chemical Romance's most recent alter egos. The Killjoys shoot laser pistols, sing and/or rock about love (and, importantly, how sad it can be), and tear their way through a bright, arid Mad Max-style wasteland. With Danger Days' anthemic sagas unspooling against a backdrop of twisting guitars and climaxes so frequent that crescendo is most songs' default setting, frontman/mastermind/dreamboat Gerard Way is probably in the best spot he's ever been in.
My Chemical Romance might've established a cultural foothold with 2002's I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love and 2004's Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, but it wasn't until 2006's The Black Parade—a rock opera in which the band wore black marching-band uniforms and channeled a lot of Queen and a little of Bowie—that it became clear who, exactly, they were: four guys from Jersey with the rock chops to make loud, catchy, and frequently mopey pop; four guys who had the attention spans and ambition to build mythologies (and merch) around album-length fables; and four guys whose willingness to stylishly reinvent themselves is equaled only by their cynicism-killing levels of enthusiasm and earnestness. It's no coincidence that their albums have gotten better, weirder, and more grandiose as the band has grown more confident—you've gotta be one cold-hearted son of a bitch to resist the fun, surprising, and sincere Danger Days. (Those superlatives, by the way, stick just as well to My Chemical Romance's live shows, as well as to The Umbrella Academy, the clever superhero comic created by Way and Gabriel Bá that boasts a legion of fans who have no idea, and even less interest in, whatever a black parade is.)
Like everyone else who doesn't hail from the dusty, lonely, lethal post-apocalypse, I'm not 100 percent sure what a system failure for the masses is, or a motor baby or a crash queen—but if those forgotten, god-forsaken things are gonna have a soundtrack blasting over their final, dangerous days, they could do a lot worse than these four guys from Jersey.