Who deserves a greatest hits collection and who doesn’t? The answer to that question is usually just a gut reaction. The Doors? Yes. Right Said Fred? No. But why? In their native Britain, Right Said Fred had four top 10 hits while the Doors merely had three in the US. What it really comes down to is perception and influence. So while the smell test says that My Chemical Romance doesn’t deserve a greatest hits collection based on their lone US top 10 hit, maybe the songs will be able to prove our collective guts wrong.
The album starts with a new unreleased track, “Fake Your Death.” The title is an interesting one to begin an album with, as if alluding to possible reunions in the future. The track itself is an arena-sized, piano jam that sounds befitting of a band like Muse. But after such a fitting opening track, the album begins to unfold chronologically. Not only chronologically but also in the order the tracks appear on their perspective albums.
So we begin with “Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough for the Two of Us” from the band’s debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love. While the track packs just as big of a punch as it did back in 2002 as the album opener, it feels a little out of place after “Fake Your Death.” The only other track from I Brought You My Bullets is “Vampires Will Never Hurt You,” completely ignoring the album’s third single, “Headfirst for Halos.” Similarly, we get four selections from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge including the non-single “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison” in place of the album’s second single “Thank You for the Venom.”
When we get to The Black Parade section of the album is where you first see the looseness of calling the album a “greatest hits.” Yes, the collection contains “Welcome to the Black Parade,” “Famous Last Words,” “Teenagers”, and “Mama,” but it omits “I Don’t Love You” which charted very well in Europe. Instead the album contains deep cut “Cancer.” The track does feel incredibly appropriate for the album. As Gerard Way’s final words “the hardest part is leaving you” fade out, it feels like great closure to the album. But no! Because of the album’s rigid conformity to chronological order, we are far from done. We need selections from the band’s final and most poorly reviewed album, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. So instead the album ends with “The Kids from Yesterday,” which is a good track but not as soul satisfying as “Cancer” would have been to close the album.
Post-hits collection, there is always bonus content. Some bands use this space to include demos, rarities, live tracks, covers. My Chemical Romance uses the space for three measly demos. The tracks come from the infamous “Attic Demos” and show the rawness of the band’s early sound and how it got polished up for their debut album. While it is interesting insight, it seems far too little for any fan of the band that already owns the majority of these songs.
In the end, May Death Never Stop You is a great collection of songs but it is not quite a Greatest Hits album. It is an album of catchy songs from a band who made marginal hits for a decade. If you have only heard “Welcome to the Black Parade” and are interested in hearing more from the band, this is a good road map of their career but for fans of the band, the album offers very little in the way of new material to make it worth the purchase.