My Chemical Romance – Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of “I Brought You My Bullets…” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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My Chemical Romance – Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of “I Brought You My Bullets…”

I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love First Came Out on July 23, 2002

Jul 22, 2022 Bookmark and Share

Among third wave emo’s most commercially successful groups, My Chemical Romance emerged with a fury from New Jersey, the state itself being fertile ground for the post-hardcore and emo scenes, having birthed such major genre acts as Midtown, Thursday, and Senses Fail, as well as the lesser known but equally deserving Armor for Sleep and Hidden in Plain View. Though the Newark-founded rock outfit would not take mainstream music by storm until the release of 2004’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, its studio debut I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love made waves within its respective milieu, introducing My Chemical Romance to the disillusioned youth culture of a post-9/11 America. The album is by no means as strong as its successors, but boasts a number of crucial third wave emo gems, painting a portrait of a major youth movement soon to explode.

In terms of seminal genre releases, 2002 was to third wave emo what 1972 was to glam and 1992 was to grunge, with Taking Back Sunday, Coheed and Cambria, The Starting Line, Senses Fail (if one is willing to count an EP), and The Used all debuting alongside My Chemical Romance as central architects of their respective scene. Furthermore, established acts such as The Get Up Kids, Midtown, and Something Corporate also released significant albums that year. Something in My Chemical Romance’s synthesis of raw post-hardcore wrath and increasingly ambitious alt rock theatrics, however, destined the group for wider recognition than many of its peers. In its time, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love went a long way to define a large portion of its burgeoning movement, with much of its appeal owing to the group’s unique charismatic synergy. Of particular import is frontman Gerard Way, who remains the group’s soul, as he screams and wails his way through each of the album’s raging cuts. A disquieting listening experience, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love is morbidly melodramatic and undeniably brutal, though simultaneously accessible and appealing to the masses, having tapped into a distinct sense of 21st century adolescent angst.

Genre staples “Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us” and “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” remain ingrained within the fabric of emo culture, the former being among My Chemical Romance’s finest songs. Such tracks introduce Way’s unique vocal style, instantly reminding the listener that his eventual evolution from throat-blistering hardcore screamer to glamorous arena rock idol à la his hero Freddie Mercury is still astounding to trace. Elsewhere, “Drowning Lessons” and “Headfirst for Halos” place My Chemical Romance in competition with the likes of Thursday (whose frontman Geoff Rickly produced the album), the group’s jagged guitars and Way’s aggressive delivery keeping the listener on edge. “Skylines and Turnstiles,” another standout, reflects Way’s reaction to the events of the September 11th attacks, which he witnessed from several blocks away while interning at Cartoon Network in New York City. He later claimed this historic tragedy to have been the primary inspiration behind My Chemical Romance’s inception, which is fitting, as a great deal of third wave emo’s aesthetic and attitude can be attributed to the widespread sense of frenzied cultural trauma experienced in 9/11’s aftermath.

Ultimately, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’s most important tracks arrive in the forms of slow burners “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville” and “Demolition Lovers.” The former, a deceptively enchanting reimagining of George A. Romero’s 1978-released zombie classic Dawn of the Dead, stands among emo’s all-time great anthems, Way delivering his most ferocious vocals on the entire album near the track’s conclusion. The latter, the album’s epic and central fan favorite, pays bleak homage to director Oliver Stone’s controversial 1994-released satirical crime film Natural Born Killers, and sets the stage for Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, whose narrative picks up where I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’s leaves off. These tracks are especially intriguing in retrospect, as both indicate the grand cinematic aspirations of subsequent My Chemical Romance releases, specifically those of 2006’s The Black Parade and 2010’s Danger Days.

Relics of another world, what third wave emo releases have managed to hold up, (much of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, Infinity on High, Where You Want to Be, and Hidden in Plain View’s Life in Dreaming still sound pretty good), remain cultural time capsules, offering raw depictions of a now-distant era. I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love is a snapshot, faded in time, of a great local band soon to become a pop cultural phenomenon, launched from the streets of Newark onto the stage at Warped Tour and, later, the GRAMMY Museum. Though Way himself once derided the emo scene and his band’s corresponding label as “fucking garbage” and “bullshit” (his opinion appears to have softened with time), My Chemical Romance has arguably done more to define third wave emo than any other major act. I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love remains a testament to this point, its sense of youthful rage and suburban alienation eternally characteristic of the movement it helped to define.

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