By Jada Hester
Twenty-One Pilots were known for their unique style and multiple genres in Blurryface, somehow managing to mix indie pop, reggae, rock, and “emo rap” into one cohesive unit. The 2015 album has sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide, with Tyler Joseph on vocals and Josh Dun on the drums.
Many of the same genres from Blurryface still exist on the band’s latest album, Trench. However, many fans feel as though the band has a bit of a different vibe than it had for its previous album. First came the cryptic posts on Reddit forums, which told the story of a man, Clancy, lost in the city of Dema. The “Banditos” are the characters attempting to liberate the city. Through more investigation from fans who pored over documents and maps that the band released, the fictional city was found to represent mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, something that Tyler Joseph often sings about. Thus, the fans found out that Trench was destined to be a concept album.
The songs within the album have a similar feeling to Blurryface, but with a noticeably more mature, somewhat soul-wrenching tone. Joseph obviously plays around with new vocals and sounds in Trench, but the overall message of dealing with depression, anxiety, and struggling with your personal demons is still the same.
In “Chlorine,” Joseph describes his struggle with making music that people enjoy but might be difficult to write. “Jumpsuit” and “The Hype” discuss the singer’s uneasiness with the new fame the band suddenly procured from Blurryface, but he knows his real fans will always stick around when the hype dies down. In “Morph” we hear familiar music but different vibes than previous albums including a great deal of symbolism and manipulated vocals. Joseph raps “I’ll morph to someone else/ I’m just a ghost/ I’ll morph to someone else/ A defense mechanism mode.”
In what is probably the most gut-wrenching song on the album, “Neon Gravestones,” Joseph explores the way that the media glorifies suicide without ever saying the word. The singer addresses the listener directly and conveys the sentiment that humans don’t appreciate each other until after they die. He even sings “I could use the streams and extra conversations/ I could give up, and boost up my reputation/ I could go out with a bang/ They would know my name/ They would host and post a celebration.”
One thing is certain—Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun definitely paint a picture with Trench, which turned out to be much more serious than Blurryface. Joseph addresses many concerns within the album, and he even finds an alternative for glorifying mental illnesses. In “Neon Gravestones,” Joseph raps “Find your grandparents or someone of age/ Pay some respects for the path that they paved/ To life they were dedicated/ Now that should be celebrated.” Trench, while not as popular as Blurryface, is the band’s most creatively daring album yet, and the fans appreciate the way TOP is always willing to talk about the things no one else wants to. As the band says at the end of every concert, “We are Twenty-One Pilots, and so are you.”