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Album Review: Twenty One Pilots ‘Trench’ – WRITER EDITS

An eclectic album that ties a new era to a previous one.

Lizzie Goodfriend

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Twenty One Pilots are back after a year-long hiatus with their fifth studio album, Trench.

The Grammy-award winning duo of  Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, who comprise the band, announced last summer that they would be taking a hiatus from all forms of social media, to take time for themselves and continue making music for their fans.

The album has only grown the Ohio duo’s popularity with new fans and old, alike.

Long before the album was even released, some die-hard fans went digging and found clues all over the internet about things that could have to do with the new music everyone was waiting for.  What started off this new era for Joseph and Dun was an email of an eye in GIF form with the question “ARE YOU STILL SLEEPING?” and only took off from there.

Fans soon discovered updates coming from an unknown website on a man named Clancy. Through more digging from these tried and true fans, they discovered a website, under the name DMAORG that led to the aforementioned Clancy’s journal. On this website there are multiple journal posts from Clancy, who knows one really knows for certain but many fans have theories, mentioned something called DEMA and how he is planning to escape. For more details and if you want to really get into the nitty gritty there are more detailed discussions on Reddit and Twitter.

This all adds up to the discovery that DEMA — and everything it entails — is portrayed through Twenty One Pilots’ first two singles off, Trench, “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners.” Both songs allude to what has been uncovered by the fans and ties this new era of Twenty One Pilots to the old.

“Jumpsuit” sounds like listening to your favorite band again, reminiscent of what was heard on their 2015 album, Blurryface.

“Nico and the Niners” was the first single from the new album that brought on new sounds that are very synth-centric and beyond the piano, bass and drums which is the typical format for Joseph and Dun.

Throughout Trench, no one song sounds like another. From “Morph” — in which Joseph shows off his falsetto skills — to “Pet Cheetah”  which is drum beat heavy to the more mixed sounds of “Legend,” dedicated to Joseph’s late grandfather, which proves that Twenty One Pilots cannot be placed in one specific genre.

For all of the songs and sounds that are new on Trench there are still plenty of ideas, topics and lyrics that are familiar.

“Levitate” is one of the only songs off of this album that is truly reminiscent of the Blurryface-era. Joseph’s rapping and Dun’s intricate drum beats highlight the track. “The Hype” is one of only two songs on this album that features the famous Joseph ukulele.

Joseph has never been one to shy away from the topic of mental health, suicide and self-harm. Trench is no different. “Neon Gravestones” samples Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and is heavily focused on how society has started to romanticize mental health — and the battles and struggles that come with it.

In an interview, Joseph says this song is “a challenge to step up and defeat something. To win,” as another way to “approach self-harm, depression, suicide.”

From the year long absence of Joseph and Dun I definitely did not know what to expect from their new music. While at first I was a bit hesitant on how different Trench sounded to previous albums, it is now one of my favorite albums to listen to on repeat for weeks at a time. Between all of the ideas and topics, to the intricate and different mixes and sounds on each song, Trench shows that Twenty One Pilots truly transcend any one genre and are going to be around for a while.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Lizzie Goodfriend is a graduate from Texas A&M University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a minor in English. She has also recently completed a course to receive a Social Media Professional Certificate. While at A&M, Lizzie wrote for her campus radio station's blog. She is currently living in Dallas, Texas and is hoping to move out to Los Angeles in the next few months.

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