Album: My Chemical Romance, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (Warners)

Red alert: 'C'mon America. You're better than this'
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The Independent Culture

Another MCR album, another hair colour. Another MCR album, another grand concept.

That's the crafty beauty of My Chemical Romance: they're precisely as superficial or as profound as you want them to be.

Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is the emo superstars' fourth album, and comes a whole four years after their big-time breakthrough, The Black Parade. The time has not merely been spent dyeing their locks vivid scarlet in order to snare the maximum number of magazine covers. This record constitutes nothing less than an audacious play for mega-band status. Recorded with Green Day producer and Warners chairman Rob Cavallo, Danger Days is a return to the rocket-fuelled, sleek and streamlined power-punk of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, with the artery-blowing passion of Gerard Way's delivery undiminished by the lengthy period of premeditation he's allowed himself this time.

It's an album which digs into the new wave ("Na Na Na"), flirts with electronic autotune pop ("Planetary"), quotes Iggy and Godspeed and MC5, but mainly says: This is what we're good at, and this time we're serious.

Set in 2019 – a myth of the near future – the album's loose narrative involves the band in the guise of four superheroic avenging angels as they traverse a placated, over-medicated nation of "Ritalin rats" and do battle against Better Living Industries.

Which may sound a little silly, but they do have a point. Rather than attack his countrymen, Way's approach is encouraging: "C'mon America", he seems to be saying, "You're better than this." Danger Days might be the closest a modern white American rock band will get to calling for a revolution.