There might be a unifying theme to the latest My Chemical Romance album (Orwellian repression is bad? Rock-n-roll = freedom?), but it doesn't matter. What's important is that "Danger Days" is the band's best album (at least since its last one) and that it should absolutely be the first thing you purchase for every middle-schooler on your holiday shopping list.
Skeptical? Just listen to the second track, "Na Na Na," or the last, "Vampire Money." It's all there: Glam/pop-punk hooks so chunky Johnny Thunders coulda writ em, choruses worthy of forgotten wonder kids Redd Kross and a the-world-revolves-around-me attitude any seventh-grader couldn't help but love. And those are just two examples; this disc is crammed with speedy rockers that are just as good (and self-absorbed).
This flexing of glam rock muscle not only makes it clear that MCR understands it is more than an aging emo-punk outfit trying to stay in the game; it demonstrates a savvy comprehension of its audience. See, middle school lasts three years, which is about how long it's been since the last MCR album. With a fresh crowd in place, the band hits the target squarely with a power-ballad such as "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W," boasting a couplet perfect for scrawling on composition notebooks - "Blow a kiss at the methane skies/see the walls through your playground eyes."
And if there is any true measure of success in this age of information saturation and overstimulation, it's hitting your demographic target. Although MCR may not be collecting a basketful of Grammys, the sixth- to eighth-grade crowd will be right there with it. For the next three years, at least.
Recommended tracks: "Na Na Na," "Vampire Money"