Emo is back, baby and it comes in the form of a new single from genre titans My Chemical Romance. Nobody speak to me until I’ve put on my eyeliner and my custom Vans high tops.
In all seriousness, emo never really left. Much like every other subgenre of Rock with a passionate cult following, it has slowly evolved — alienating its original fanbase who swear the genre has “sold out” while simultaneously appealing to a whole new generation of Spirit Halloween shoppers.
The reason you may hear the term “emo is dead” a lot these days is because of how niche the genre of emo is. For starters, there are still debates over whether emo is a real genre. It is because music is subjective and words are made up, but then the debates go deeper, with discussions about what classifies an emo song. Today, emo has even made its way into the rap genre, further expanding the definition of emo music and what that term means.
My Chemical Romance, back in their heyday, have encompassed everything that emo fans in the 2000s would consider staples of the genre. Dark, emotional lyrics, powerful choruses with lots of wailing/screaming, black eyeliner, black clothing, everything black. Despite this, the band has often resented being stuffed into the tiny, constrictive box, preferring to set their sights on a much higher title than “Kings of Emo.” Their new track is evidence of that.
“The Foundations of Decay” is a new single by the four-piece rock unit, their first since 2014’s “Fake Your Death.” In that instance, the song was more of a closing chapter on MCR’s career, topping a greatest hits album that served as a final farewell to their fans as the kings stepped away from their throne. This new single seems to be a signal of return, a sign of things to come as the band prepares for its reunion tour that many have speculated will open the door for new projects.
While many are likely already calling “The Foundations of Decay,” which was released on most music streaming platforms on May 12, an emo comeback, that might not be entirely accurate. Again, music is subjective, and while emo has a huge following as a genre, its defining features are shared with many, many other subgenres of rock. Emo today is a very different genre, one that doesn’t share a whole lot with the 6-minute rock ballad MCR released. To put it simply, this ain’t your grandkid’s emo.
Fans of the scene from the 2000s will instantly be transported back to the days of the Black Parade as soon as the track starts. Low buzzing static is joined by Gerard Way’s soothing voice, before a melodic, trippy guitar and the sound of drums lead into an uproarious chorus that rushes over you like a wave of pitch-black tears.
But the filtered, almost electrified vocals provided by Way mixed with that intriguing-sounding guitar give the song a distinctive, otherworldly touch that might be more reminiscent of Way’s solo work post-MCR. It seems that he, as well as lead guitarist Frank Iero (who also had a successful post-emo career with his band The Future Violents), are bringing their musical maturity to the genre that they dominated early in their career.
“The Foundations of Decay” has plenty of nods to the days of emo’s past — a breakdown halfway through requires headbanging with no shame — but it isn’t a step back for the band at all. If anything, this new project (assuming the single symbolizes more to come) will be unlike anything we’ve ever heard from the group. Splashes of classic emo and rock could mix with splotches of indie and alt. Maybe we’ll get even more instances of a space rock influence, the same way Black Parade incorporated influences of prog, vaudeville, and opera in its emotional sound.
The point is, MCR has never really been straight-up emo. But since their first breakup, they’ve explored other genres of music and other mediums in general, and this new single certainly reflects that. Here’s hoping whatever comes next blows my striped thigh-high socks off even more.
Check out the single below.