by Hannah Ruttan
5. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, 2004
Three Cheers is an amazing album, but it is not a huge departure from MCR’s first record. The band was still in the process of finding their sound here, though they did include many amazing songs. “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” is a staple in the emo and alternative scenes, being one of the songs that pushed the culture into the mainstream. “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison” features Bert McCracken, lead singer of emo rock band The Used, who provides howling and pained backing vocals, taking the role of the cellmate of Gerard Way, the lead singer. I don’t come back to this album as much as I should, as it doesn’t hold a huge personal meaning for me, though I still love it. It’s a staple in multiple rock and alternative scenes, and it was my first introduction to the band in the early 2000s. My emotional attachment is just significantly lower here.
4. I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, 2002
This is my favorite album from the band. Raw and gritty, it explores the ideas of vampires and mental illness, as well as featuring the song that launched the band, “Skylines and Turnstiles.” That emotional track discusses lead singer Gerard’s feelings about 9/11 after watching the towers fall from his office in New York City. “Headfirst for Halos” is about the thought of suicide and the band’s attempt at convincing the narrator of the song not to follow through on it. The repeating mantra at the end of the song had enough impact on me to have it tattooed on my arm forever: “think happy thoughts.” My favorite song, “Drowning Lessons,” makes me tear up by the end, and for years it has been the song I blare when I am angry or upset. Most of the songs on this album are better for headbanging and driving than prompting huge emotional connections, which is why I might like it so much.
3. The Black Parade, 2006
Perhaps the band’s most well-known record, The Black Parade, is where they hit their mainstream peak following the release of their popular single “Welcome to the Black Parade.” People have dared to call the song our generation’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and I am inclined to agree. The album tells the story of The Patient, who has cancer and is going to join the Black Parade once he passes. The band does not use too many features across their works, but Liza Minnelli features in the song “Mama,” playing The Patient’s mother. I come back to this record often, finding more layers and more depth each time. Some of the tracks have become a staple in my life, I’ve often joked about tattooing all of the lyrics of “Welcome to the Black Parade” on my body. “Famous Last Words” has the most meaning to me out of any of the tracks, being the one that helped me out of my longest depressive episodes. The album’s story may not have the greatest emotional effect on me, but the thought and power behind the songs does.
2. Conventional Weapons, 2012-2013
Though not considered an album, rather a compilation of unreleased songs, Conventional Weapons was intended to be MCR’s fourth and final album before being scrapped. Instead, after the release of Danger Days, the band decided to release five two-song EPs. With these selections came “The World is Ugly,” a song the band said would only release if they were going to break up; “Boy Division,” a song reminiscent of punk music from the ’90s; and “Burn Bright,” a tune that showcases the musical ability of every member in the band, and that was the final song released by the band until their greatest hits album in 2014. Also the last release before their break-up, these songs hold a lot of personal meaning for me. I started looking into my mental health in 2012 and 2013, and these songs helped me push through that time. “Ambulance” holds the most meaning for me. Though sad songs like “The World is Ugly” and “The Light Behind Your Eyes” gave me something to cry to, “Ambulance” provided a bright light for me.
1. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, 2010
The band’s second “true” concept album, following the story of the titular Killjoys, a rebel group facing off against the evil Better Living Industries, this album holds a higher ranking because of the sentimental value I have for it, its clean production, and its impressive story. Spoken interludes are strewn throughout the album, helping to tell the story of the band’s characters and their friends, starting with “Look Alive, Sunshine” and ending with “Goodnite, Dr. Death,” both of which are narrated by Steve Montano of Mindless Self Indulgence. This record came at a very strange time in my life. Many of my friends were leaving my small Catholic school, I was starting to learn more about my family, and I was coping with the bullying I had endured. This album reminded me of the things that were important and the things that made me feel sane and okay. “The Kids from Yesterday” still makes me tear up, as it reminds me of the friendships I once had, the friendships I still have, and the amazing memories I’ve made over the years. “Summertime,” though a love song, reminds me of my best friend, who I only see in the summers when we are out of school. I made numerous friends in the band’s fandom during this era, and, even if I do not talk to them anymore, I am grateful for the interactions I had and the bonds we shared. This album holds the most meaning to me, and it makes me feel at home.
Hannah Ruttan is a senior writing major and music minor from Bradford. She was the editor of the 2021 issue of Baily’s Beads. Hannah began writing at age six and hasn’t stopped since, working on a young adult novel outside of classes and work. Some of her hobbies include collecting records and K-pop albums as well as spending too much time on her Nintendo Switch.