Twenty One Pilots Continue to Defy Critics on Surprisingly Cohesive 'Trench': Album Review

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On their first new album for the reason that duo's stunning mainstream takeover, Twenty One Pilots have steadfastly refused to surrender their eccentric core tenants.

In the three-plus years since releasing the idea album Blurryface -- a deceptively pop-friendly exploration of frontman Tyler Joseph’s private demons -- the Ohio pair despatched three tracks to the Billboard Hot 100’s high 5 and moved greater than 1.6 million items of the breakthrough album (in keeping with Nielsen Music). It was sufficient to make them bankable family names, as befuddled critics and business gatekeepers lastly needed to admit these suburban misfits into pop’s industrial elite. They gained a Grammy, then stripped to their underwear on the nationwide telecast. Five months later, drummer Josh Dun accepted a trophy on the Alternative Press Music Awards by talking cryptically concerning the new fictional universe that might host their then-unannounced Blurryface follow-up.

Arguably 2018’s most generally anticipated rock album, Trench revels within the confounding genre-blurring and cavernous conceptualism that has outlined Twenty One Pilots over their practically decade-long existence. If something, it’s weirder than its predecessor, and much more confident in its pursuit of a cohesive idea, which once more facilities on Joseph’s inner-turmoil.

On Blurryface, the titular character represented the frontman’s insecurities in writing and performing; on Trench, comparable forces of tension and despair are manifested in DEMA (a fictional metropolis Dun talked about in that APMAs speech) and a band of enforcers referred to as Nico & The Nine, whom Joseph, Dun and their allies, the Banditos, are perpetually making an attempt to evade. If that looks as if loads (it's), this new universe was no less than detailed within the pair of singles that launched the Trench cycle again in July. The bizarro reggae of “Nico and the Niners” outlined the adversaries, and the vicious, bass-driven hardcore of “Jumpsuit” defined Joseph’s getaway techniques: particular clothes that make them invisible to their pursuers. The latter spent three weeks within the Hot 100 and rapidly shot to No. 1 on Alternative Songs, flexing Twenty One Pilots’ streaming and alt-radio muscle regardless of near-impenetrable oddness. 

“Jumpsuit” is Trench’s opening observe, and Joseph ends it by screaming its refrain amid an air-raid bass breakdown. The album by no means once more approaches such brutality, regardless of the unusually sturdy case it makes for Twenty One Pilots-gone-hardcore. Instead, Joseph and Dun re-maneuver acquainted Blurryface touchstones -- perky reggae textures, ukulele beds, paranoid backpack rap -- alongside jarring new developments. The menacing slow-burner “Chlorine” slinks by with menacing, Zaytoven-esque piano twinkle earlier than descending into full darkness. Back-to-back Side A highlights “Levitate” and “Morph” deploy rapid-fire breakbeats and jarring left turns that recall the Prodigy and DJ Shadow, suggesting what a virtuoso percussionist Dun has grow to be. Electric guitar has little (if any) presence on the album, but “The Hype” and “Legend,” each jubilant, crowd-ready panoramas, carry a great deal of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? of their DNA.

Perhaps that’s why these two are nearly the one beforehand unheard Trench tracks that sound like potential singles (“My Blood,” its most radio-friendly music, just lately broke into the Alternative Songs high 10). Joseph’s shrill falsetto does recall a litany of business alt-poppers from “Pumped Up Kicks” to “Feel It Still” (and numerous also-rans in between), and its frequent appearances sometimes develop grating. It’s awfully troublesome to maintain an album this sprawling and freewheeling cohesive on the identical time, however excellent sequencing and manufacturing continuity meet the problem over Trench’s 14 tracks. Twenty One Pilots employed a handful of producers on Blurryface, however this time, that cohort is right down to Joseph and new collaborator Paul Meany, frontman of intrepid alt-rock veterans Mutemath. Again, there are not any options. This is a band that's defiantly productive when it's furthest down its personal bizarre wavelength.

It's no coincidence they’re awfully good at pissing off rock traditionalists too. We're speaking concerning the kind preferring their songs siloed off into acquainted scenes like punk, metallic and alt-folk and are sometimes older than Twenty One Pilots’ legion of streaming technology devotees. But there’s that means within the insanity. Against preposterous odds, Trench is concurrently bold and cohesive and should convert some outsiders. As for a repeat pop takeover, it has up to now failed to seek out footing on the Hot 100 and, large fanbase not withstanding, the crossover door may very well be closing for now. What’s sure, although, is that the huge fanbase isn’t going wherever. Trench matches the stakes of Blurryface and all its demon-conquering, genre-blurring catharsis, whereas elevating it one on the sonic universe holding all of it collectively.