Album Review: Twenty One Pilots - Trench

Loz Doyle reviews...

Loz Doyle
24th October 2018
Credit: wikipedia

 

Twenty Øne Pilots are back after a year long break (which I refuse to call a hiatus, as so many do, since they were very clearly working on new music the entire time) from releasing music. 2015’s Blurryface launched the eclectic duo’s career, projecting them to ridiculous levels of fame across the globe. Whether or not they achieve that same level of success with brand new album, Trench, remains to be seen.

Trench has already entered the charts at the highest point for a Twenty Øne Pilots album so they’re off to a good start thus far. However, members Tyler Joseph (vocalist and multi-instrumentalist) and Josh Dun (percussionist, occasional trumpeter), are unlikely to base their accomplishments on chart positions of record sales, caring more about how their fans (or ‘clique’ as they’re commonly referred to) receive it. They say as much in album track ‘Pet Cheetah’: “this clique means so much to this dude, it could make him afraid of his music.” Twenty Øne Pilots make music for those who will listen to it, not for their sales; that is something quite admirable.

Trench itself doesn’t depart much from Blurryface. Their trademark synthetic rock sound with a bold smattering of ukulele here and there remains. Album opener ‘Jumpsuit’ is bass-driven. Seriously that bassline is a tour-de-force! But where the former TØP would layer it with instrumental parts, this time they’ve left thsi well alone. ‘Levitate’ too doesn’t rely on background noise to fill the gaps between Joseph’s rapidfire rapping. The only other prominent element is Josh Dun’s equally frantic drumming.

The reason behind this shift towards minimalism is simple. While Blurryface featured a whole host of producers, Trench is produced exclusively by Joseph himself and Mutemath vocalist Paul Meany. Having fewer minds working on this record lends the album a more cohesive feel.

Meanwhile, their songs’ themes (fighting inner demons and not-so-subtle religious imagery cc: ‘My Blood’) remain as prevalent as always. ‘Neon Gravestones’, while technically one of the strongest tracks on this record, is the album’s lowest point emotionally. Its morbid piano melody is all too fitting for this focus upon mortality, struggle, and a culture which supposedly glorifies mental illness.

The unexpected highlight of Trench has to be the aforementioned ‘Pet Cheetah’. The song is as ridiculous as its name: edgy hip-hop beats combine with choral vocals and borderline nonsensical lyrics. But maybe that’s why it’s such a success in my eyes. It’s totally unapologetic in its surrealism, yet it hides an underlying message of self doubt.

Is Trench an easy listen? Hell no. Much like the rest of TØP’s discography, their songs need attention. The more you listen to them, the more you uncover their meaning, their talent, the more your appreciation for each song will grow. So, give the record a couple of spins. Good things require a little effort on the audience’s part, and Trench deserves the time you give it.
ing fewer minds working on this record lends the album a more cohesive feel.

Meanwhile, their songs’ themes (fighting inner demons and not-so-subtle religious imagery cc: ‘My Blood’) remain as prevalent as always. ‘Neon Gravestones’, while technically one of the strongest tracks on this record, is the album’s lowest point emotionally. Its morbid piano melody is all too fitting for this focus upon mortality, struggle, and a culture which supposedly glorifies mental illness.

The unexpected highlight of Trench has to be the aforementioned ‘Pet Cheetah’. The song is as ridiculous as its name: edgy hip-hop beats combine with choral vocals and borderline nonsensical lyrics. But maybe that’s why it’s such a success in my eyes.

Score: 4/5

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