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My Chemical Romance, 'The Foundations of Decay'

Before the albums Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and The Black Parade, and certainly before the band sang "I'm Not Okay" — giving a mute generation license for honesty and a language for their post Sept. 11 collective trauma — My Chemical Romance wrote comic book narratives on death. The band had to. Unlike the urban, subcultural bands that predated third wave emo, MCR was born in the suburbs, in the shadow of New York City's skyline, deeply uncool and escapist. A refuge from the rumble of the Twin Towers was found in the narrative mind of frontman Gerard Way and the band's crude guitar tracks, informed by local emo heroes Thursday as much as Morrissey, Queen, musical theater and Fangoria. In VFW halls and New Brunswick basements, they became vampiric superheroes, ready to give teens credence and optimism in their pain.

"The Foundations of Decay," My Chemical Romance's first new song since 2014's "Fake Your Death," recalls that time, sounding like a lost relic from its first album, 2002's I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, amplified by six-minute long proggy production. Beneath the programmed static, a mournful guitar line rings out — nearly identical to the one in "Demolition Lovers" — with explosive drums that build in the pre-chorus. Ray Toro's lead guitar is full of sticky staccato, and Gerard's rich, nasal tenor oscillates from reserved near-sprechgesang to screaming belt, strained but wiser now.

"He was there, the day the towers fell," he sings out to those early days, "Take his body as a relic to be canonized now / And so he gets to die a saint / But she will always be a whore," he contorts in the chorus. Instead of the navel-gazing, easy misogyny of emo-pop, Way and his band identify everyday injustices and perform them. How else could you exorcize a demon? Foundations decay, but in the debris is something beautiful.

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