Trench matches Blurryface

Austin Elliott – Contributor

Three years after acclaimed album, “Blurryface,” alternative rock-rap duo Twenty One Pilots returns with a new album, titled “Trench.” It is obvious that this piece needed hard work to deliver the same quality as its predecessor.

The opening track and first released single, “Jumpsuit”, tries to match the build up that “Heavydirtysoul” provided, but it does not match that standard. The single did not make one excited for the album, but the use of heavy bass throughout can blow one away. Halfway through the track, my legs began vibrating to the bass, certainly a plus for this album. The crunch of the guitars gives this song a metal-esque sound, matching vocalist Tyler Joseph’s screaming vocals. The group has been known to delve into other genres in the past. An interesting track for sure, making for a strong opener.

On “Levitate,” Joseph worked with Mutemath vocalist Paul Meany, who shows up on a few tracks in the album. “Levitate” is on the weaker side with the rap style lyrics similar to “Blurryface,” it is not very memorable. Being the shortest track on the album, one does not have to sit through much.

In “Morph” hints of “Trench,” being a concept album arise, a first for the band. This is a chill track instrumentally, mainly relying on a drum beat and a piano riff until the chorus, where bass is heard. Similar vocal effects used on “Stressed Out” are put into effect here, with a quick fade out and pitch-shifted vocals being used in the middle of the song only for them to fade right back in at Joseph’s normal pitch, making it a decent song.

In “My Blood,” one voice in the chorus may be heard as a woman’s singing, “you don’t need to run.” Upon investigation, there are no featured musicians listed, so this is Joseph working with his black magic again, using pitch shifting to make him sound higher. This neat effect might be impressive, but the track is not memorable.

“Chlorine” feels like a song about rebellion. Its lyrics counter “My Blood,” with the line, “running for my life”, being a complete rebuttal to “you don’t need to run.” Heavy on the vocals and drums, light on the synth, “Chlorine” is a decent track, but it is too long.

“Smithereens”, instrumentally, sounds like a slower Kero Kero Bonito song, reminding one of “Flamingo” with hints of the band’s hit “Ride” vocally. One could argue that the lyrics focus on this being a sell-out song due to its radio friendly vibe, but it is fun, and might just be the strongest on the whole album.

“The Hype” feels like a “Bittersweet Symphony” clone without the iconic violin melody mixed with “Wonderwall” style vocals. It is essentially a modern-day Britpop song. It is great and it is close to “Smithereens” as one of the strongest on the album. Vocal effects are present here and make Joseph sound like he is singing through a grade school loudspeaker. It is a neat effect and boy does it work.

It is appropriate that “Nico and the Niners” is the ninth track on the album. Nico is originally referenced in “Morph”, and references to “Jumpsuit,” are present. This solidifies the concept album aspect of this record. However, no fleshed out story for this album will arise from simply listening to it. Joseph plays around yet again with pitch manipulation, adding a slight vocoder to the track on his deeper vocals while not touching his higher vocals. This effect gives vibes that brought out similarities to the vocals on “Little Neutrino” by Klaatu, although the vocals here are more refined than in that track. This second single is by far the stronger of the two.

“Neon Gravestones,” “Cut My Lip,” “Bandito,” and “Pet Cheetah,”are good, but are not memorable. Nothing makes them stand out compared to the rest of the album, and “Bandito,” drags on and on. At five and half minutes, it is the longest on the album.

“Legend” is fun, walking down the street on a beautiful day music. The piano riff is cheery, and the drums match it nicely. There are hints of ukulele on this track, something that made, “Blurryface,” stand out and is sorely missed on this album.

“Leave The City,” the final track is slow, with a “Golden Slumbers”esque piano opening and jazz style drumming from Josh Dun. This wraps up the concept album. The lyrics here are of some dystopian city, and the vocalist is the protagonist. The song is not fast, but it is nice to listen to. It has good Pink Floyd’s, “Wish You Were Here,” vibes.

“Trench” absolutely lives up to Twenty One Pilots previous album. The music here is fresh and enjoyable, and even the forgettable tracks are good background music. There are influences from prog rock, metal, Britpop, and of course the rap that made Twenty One Pilots stand out in the first place. Things may be missing, like the ukulele, but Joseph and Dun stand out yet again and make up for losses with improvement in other things. Joseph onhisownisoneofthe best songwriters of the decade, but collaborations with Paul Meany greatly weaken his skills. “Trench,” is one of the best albums to have been made this year, and deserves an eight out of 10.

Photo Credit: Drew de F. Fawkes

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