Twenty One Pilots releases new album: Trench

Oliver Litner- Staff Writer, Max Brewster- Photographer

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The newest album from wildcard duo Twenty One Pilots, Trench, has been a huge success. Multi-instrumentalist and frontman Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun have delivered one of the most compelling rock releases of this year, standing at the forefront of innovation in this genre. Trench has allowed the band to dive headfirst into unmarked territory, all the while eliminating most of the flaws from their previous records. Joseph establishes his position as one of the most interesting frontmen in rock music, weaving his ridiculously creative and thoughtful sides together perfectly. Meanwhile, Dun provides excellent performances and attitude through his drumming.

Before its release, Twenty One Pilots sneakily teased their fans about the upcoming tracks by displaying a URL at the end of video collage on the merchandise website for their previous album Vessel; the collage strung together many old clips of live performance and music videos. If the viewers were quick enough to catch the URL and search it, they would have found a website that contained videos and pictures relaying a very confusing story, intriguing fans and prompting them to believe that new music was about to be released.

According to famous music critic Anthony Fantano of theneedledrop Youtube channel, “This is a more vibrant, a moodier, a sterner, a grittier Twenty One Pilots.”

Fantano believes Trench surpasses all of Twenty One Pilots’ past releases. The melodramatic singing and lyricism as well as genre rotations on previous efforts made their songs feel similar to diluted versions of emotional anthems. With Trench, however, the underlying story connecting every single song is very fascinating, especially compared to the Blurryface concept the band explored in 2015. In the latter, Joseph formulated a character to interpret all of his insecurities, and this character influenced the lyrics across the album. The different concepts explored on Trench are entirely new and much more immersive. Trench contains incredibly mature songwriting and production, proving it to be a standout album.

The band also created a website that parallels the background for the album, and on this website, a character named Clancy documents his life through handwritten letters. In these letters, Clancy describes nine people he calls bishops, who rule a city named Dema. The bishops silence and intimidate the residents of the city. Clancy’s life in Dema represents the human mind trying to recover from mental illness. He makes multiple attempts to escape from the city, but every time Clancy manages to find freedom, the bishops capture him and trap him in a whirlwind of anxiety and depression. Lyrics in the album detail both Joseph’s experience while writing the album, and tales which further the allegory. The song “Morph” is about a bishop named Nico who makes members of the society feel insecure and fearful. “Nico and the Niners” illustrates an escape from feeling trapped and powerless in the city full of depression and anxiety.

“I created this world to feel some control,” sings Tyler Joseph on “Bandito.” “Destroy it if I want.”

Suffering from depression himself, Joseph wrote this album to express his pain and establish a sense of authority against his illness. Joseph took a step back to characterize all of his emotions, and in doing so, gave himself a better understanding of his true enemy. Lyrics across this album tackle the feelings that weigh Joseph down and hamper his abilities.

Stylistically, the album dabbles in many genres similar to Twenty One Pilots’ past work. However, the genre bending on Trench is dramatic rather than obtrusive. Splashes of influence from countless musical niches makes this album a mixed bag of entertaining and quality songs.

On Blurryface, mainstream singles such as “Stressed Out” and “Ride” attracted a new fanbase of radio listeners, and many listeners expected the band to cater to this new audience in their next album by producing more bland tracks. However, the band completely proved these skeptics wrong. The lead single, “Jumpsuit,” is without a doubt, one of the best songs Twenty One Pilots has ever produced It takes the band in an incredibly new direction, combining a murderous, unrelenting heavy rock bass riff with a spacey, psychedelic alternative pop verse. This creates an intriguing and unique sonic juxtaposition. Other standouts include the wildly experimental “Pet Cheetah” and the chilling, razor-sharp “Neon Gravestones.” Almost every song on Trench is exciting, colorful and produced perfectly. The immaculate production coupled with fantastic and creative songwriting makes this album an animated and unique listen.