As a movement, emo is notably easy to ridicule. After all, its practitioners tend to be self-conscious, self-pitying, self-loathing, and self-obsessed -- a collection of traits even Narcissus would have a tough time topping. Fortunately, My Chemical Romance's major-label bow, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, avoids emo's worst pitfalls (most of the time, anyhow) and exhibits a fondness for cheese that's rare in this genre.
Lead singer Gerald Way cultivates a film-noir sensibility, loading the lyrics to ditties such as "Thank You for the Venom" with entertainingly overwrought crime imagery that's a lot more enjoyable than the usual what-will-I-do-without-her whining. Musically, the disc imbues its pop leanings with dollops of impudent bravado, like the notably wanky guitar solo that intersects "You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison." Such moments help balance the likes of "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)," which is nakedly sincere in an irritating way. Three Cheers may be a bit too generous, but not by much. How about two and a half?