On their major-label debut, scruffy New Jersey rockers My Chemical Romance have cleaned up their act. This is a slab of arena-ambitious punk steeped in crisp histrionics and molten chords. More specifically, the acrobatic yelps from singer Gerard Way and guitar dramatics from Ray Toro and Frank Iero are highly reminiscent of the prog-Radioheadisms of Muse. This sophistication extends to the rest of the album, which includes a colorful array of textures -- the pompous, classic rock bridge on "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)," a melancholy nightmare of an instrumental called "Interlude," and squalling heavy-metal shredding on "Thank You for the Venom."
This progression doesn't make My Chemical Romance a slick corporate pawn, however; witness the gloriously snotty mohawk-curler "Give 'Em Hell Kid" and AFI-style "Hang 'Em High." In fact, it's the propulsive "To the End," a darkly descriptive diatribe against the emptiness of riches, that proves them worthy of the spoils they condemn.