I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love is the debut album from My Chemical Romance, one of the leading “emo” rock groups of the early 21st century. Though their 2002 debut wouldn’t bring them mainstream success, it helped to lay down groundwork for their later mainstream breakout.
I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, with all the makings of a debut album from a fledgling band, simultaneously comes packaged with all the wisdom, wit, and woe you’d expect from veteran songwriters.
There’s variety to be found in Bullets, which both helps and hurts its artfulness. While songs like “Skylines & Turnstiles” and “Cubicles” have a distinct pop-punk vibe, some of the album’s sharper-edged tracks, including “Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us” and “Our Lady Of Sorrows”, carry post-hardcore and even some metal influences. While hearing this level of variety from a band in its infancy is unique, it detracts from the image of the band’s true identity at this point in their career. As in, what’s their main style? Do they have one?
I suspect this may be the origins of the “emo” labelling in the band couldn’t fit itself into any singular genre otherwise. That said, My Chemical Romance executes the balancing act between genres quite well in Bullets.
What Bullets doesn’t have in consistency, however, it certainly carries in lyricism. A particular favorite of mine on this album, “Early Sunsets Over Monroeville”, tells the grim story of a couple affected by a vampire’s bite (vampires are a re-occuring theme in this album). The man in the relationship, to keep from becoming infected himself, must kill his partner, making things “harder at best”. The song laments the man’s difficulty of coming to terms with his decision, reflecting on a time of “Late dawns and early sunsets…Just like up on the screen”. Couple the dark lyrics with the lightest-sounding riffs on the album, and you’ve got one of the most emotional, narrative tracks in MCR’s discography.
“Monroeville” isn’t the only track to couple gloomy lyrics with energetic riffs. “Headfirst For Halos” closes out the album’s front half with a riff that’s catchy as hell, yet features a suicidal narrator declaring, “I think I’ll blow my brains against the ceiling/And as the fragments of my skull begin to fall/Fall on your tongue like pixie dust/Just think happy thoughts!” The darkest lyrics on the entire album, coupled with the album’s bounciest riffs, seems like an unnatural pairing, yet the chemistry between the vocals and the musicality blends together beautifully.
Meanwhile, songs like “Vampires Will Never Hurt You” and “Demolition Lovers” get a little edgier with the instrumentation. The former features a bridge-breakdown that contrasts greatly with the song’s softer opening, while “Demolition Lovers”, the album’s closing epic, features a complex, technical solo unlike anything else on the album.
I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love is ultimately a grab-bag of an album. While its stylings can vary greatly, MCR’s first eleven tracks of their discography still set the scene for greater music to come. That isn’t to say, however, that Bullets doesn’t have anything to offer; while fans will inevitably find filler, Bullets has some killer tracks that are still fan-favorites within the MCR community.
I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, upon its 2002 release through the now-defunct Eyeball Records, didn’t exactly make waves within the larger music community.
To promote the album, the band toured within New Jersey before being noticed by an agent from Reprise Records, who would sign the band to their label in 2003, a year before their mainstream breakout, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, was released.
As of 2009, Bullets has sold 300,000 copies in the U.S., bolstered by the mainstream success the band saw long after the debut’s release.
Despite the album’s lack of massive success, however, the album has still seen acclaim for showcasing the band’s grungy, unfiltered beginnings – in true rushed punk spirit, Bullets was recorded over the span of one week.
“I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love is incendiary – a gloomy, raw, consuming affair torn and haunted by bleak, bitter depression,” wrote Under The Gun Review. “It’s an astonishingly effective and intimate portrait of what it is to be so afflicted.”
Frontman Gerard Way attributes the rawness of Bullets partly due to an oral procedure he underwent days before he was due to record his vocals.
“The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me,” said Way at the time of the album’s release. “The thought I had facial nerve paralysis, they thought that I had TMG. I was on all these different drugs, and luckily I was able to sing for two days.”
Though his illness proved to be merely a tooth infection, recording his vocals proved difficult, thus leading to the power behind the fleshed-out yelling on the album.
Following the band’s breakup, Way found appreciation in the album’s anger.
“I'm pissed on this!” Way said as he live-tweeted his commentary on the album in April of 2013. “(I) learned to scream from listening to At The Gates.”
Given that My Chemical Romance broke up in 2013, there isn’t a whole lot in store for the band. Most recently, a 10th Anniversary re-release of The Black Parade saw release last year, along with a collection of demos and unreleased tracks entitled Living With Ghosts.
The main members of the band are currently keeping themselves busy with various side projects. Gerard Way, who graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, is working on DC Comics’ Young Animal imprint, which includes a rebooted Doom Patrol run. Brother and MCR bassist Mikey Way has been busy with his rock duo, Electric Century, which released an album in 2016.
Guitarist Frank Iero is currently touring with his band, FrnkIero and the Patience, while guitarist Ray Toro released a solo project, Remember the Laughter, in 2016.
Next week’s review: Angels and Airwaves’ “We Don’t Need To Whisper”