Well if You Wanted Honesty!

A track by track dissection of one of the most iconic pop punk albums of the early 2000s


Post-Punk Press

MCR during the “revenge era”

Out of all the bands in the world, My Chemical Romance has arguably made one of the biggest names for themself. They led an era of music, garnered a cult following, and are STILL one of the biggest names in Pop Punk to this day. 

During their sadly short-lived career, MCR released four albums. I Brought You my Bullets you Brought me Your Love (2002), The Black Parade (2006), Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (2010), and the album we will be discussing today, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004)


Three Cheers is an album I hold very close to my heart. It’s a rock opera that follows the story of a man and a woman. Both supposedly dying in a gunfight, only for the man to be told that she is still alive and walking the earth. Front-man Gerard Way described it as a “pseudo-conceptual horror story”.


This album is made up of 12 (not including Interlude) extremely strong tracks that I will be going over in this article. We open with Helena, one of their most popular songs of all time and for good reason. 

Track 1- Helena

This song was one of the first songs that introduced me to the emo genre as a whole and it never gets old. It was the third single released from Three Cheers, alongside I’m Not Okay (I Promise), Thank You For The Venom, and The Ghost of You. It has one of the most memorable choruses of any song I’ve ever heard. This follows the man mourning the “death” of his lover. 


Track 2– Give ‘Em Hell, Kid 

This is a heinously underrated song, it’s fast paced and loud and has one of the best opening bass-lines ever. But with the same somber feel as the rest of the album. It follows the perspective of the man’s lover, unaware that he knows that she’s still living. 

Track 3- To The End 

Another ridiculously underrated and extremely strong track, one of my personal favorites on the album. This song breaks from the main premise of the album and is actually based on a short story by William Faulkner called “A Rose for Emily.” Which is about a woman who is so affected by the death of her father that she becomes obsessively attached to a man named Homer, whom she ends up killing because of this. 

Track 4- You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us in Prison

Now we come to my all time favorite track on the album. Also one of the longest song names ever, so long I usually abbreviate it when talking about it. This switches back to our two main characters, about a criminal who never expects to be caught, but one day he is and is sent to prison. Shown in “Well they’re never gonna get me, i’m like a bullet through a flock of doves.” This song is so raw and eerie and that’s what makes it so absolutely incredible. 

Track 5- I’m Not Okay (I Promise)

This song has gone down in rock history as a pop punk must. Everyone who is or was in the scene at one point knows and loves this song. Gerard Way himself described it as a “self-help pop song”, this song follows a boy who is in love with a girl, but she has a boyfriend and doesn’t like him enough to break up with her boyfriend. This song is arguably one of the most iconic songs of the early 2000s. 

Track 6- The Ghost of You 

This is a slow, incredibly hard hitting song about the fear of losing someone you love. The music video itself actually takes place on D-Day in World War 2 where Way and his brother, Mikey, play soldiers. It’s a very unique and different story from a lot of their other songs. It’s a slow and haunting song that stays with you, and honestly one of the best in their entire career. 

Track 7- The Jetset Life is Gonna Kill You

This song is extremely unique. It’s about addiction as a celebrity, and how dangerous being on the road is and how fast things like the addictions that Way has suffered with can happen. It’s an extremely dark and VERY real song.

Track 9- Thank You For the Venom

This track truly shows off lead guitarists Ray Toro and Frank Ieros skills. With an intense, almost metal intro and melodic backing drums. This is a simple anthem about embracing your identity and ignoring what people say, a classic pop punk message seen in a lot of songs. But this song particularly does a great job of renewing it. 


Track 10- Hang ‘Em High

Next up is yet ANOTHER underrated masterpiece of a song. Even from the name alone the western vibes and influence are already seen. The song itself is about getting the person you love to carry on without you. This is honestly in my top five from this album. It has such a good rhythm to it and the lyrics are unlike any other song. 

“Don’t stop if I fall, and don’t look back.” is a lyric from Hang ‘Em High, and is just one of the many examples of MCRs ability to write some of the most powerful and moving lyrics of all time. 


Track 11- It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a DeathWish

Almost to the end now. This song is very clear from the first lyrics, “For what you did to me, and what I’ll do to you.”, that it is a song about simple revenge. In this song we come back to our protagonist. This is him trying to reunite with his beloved. This song to me is pure rage and one of the best looks into the characters that MCR had created. 


Track 12- Cemetery Drive 

The 12th track on Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. This was actually the song that got me to listen to the album in its entirety and man am I glad that I did. It’s an incredibly dark song with a contrasting upbeat rhythm in the beginning. Way’s powerful and atmospheric singing just makes this track even more chilling than it already is. 

Track 13- I Never Told You What I Do For a Living 

And finally, without further ado, the 13th and last track on this album.  I think this song perfectly wraps up this dark, fragile, and poignant album. This song is about loving someone even though they hurt you, or more simply, just living through hardship. It is an excellent wrap up. The heavy guitar riffs and the terrifying yet beautiful lyrics draw a close to the story of these Bonnie and Clyde inspired lovers. 


In conclusion, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge honestly gets a 10/10. It is and always has been one of the most iconic pop punk albums of our generation and it made such a lasting impression on lovers of rock. Even people who aren’t particularly into MCR agree on its archetypal significance. So if you have time, and even if rock or punk isn’t your cup of tea, I heavily suggest taking time to listen to it.