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Album Review: Twenty One Pilots ‘Trench’

Consistently creating music that’s outside the box without bursting the envelope.

Rachel Cross

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It shouldn’t come as a shock to any of their fans that Twenty One Pilots have done it again, creating yet another complex, intricate and cohesive project with their newest album Trench released early last month.  The Album is estimated to land 120K-130K in US sales. This come up just short or their last record album Blurryface which brought in 134K in pure sales according to Headline Planet.

The album’s leading song ‘Jumpsuit’ hit number one on Billboard’s Alternative Songs Chart within two weeks, making it the fastest chart topper of this decade. While the song is an alternative rock hit that’s very consistent with the band’s earlier work, it does not define the style or sound of the entire album.

It’s easy to forget when getting lost in their unique sound that Twenty One Pilots is the crafted by the two-man army Tyler Joseph and Josh Dunn. It’s been three years since the artistic duo’s last release and it was well worth the wait.

If fact, the most remarkable characteristics of Trench the ability to blend so many different genres and styles in one project, without one track or one instrument sounding out of place. Their ability to demonstrate such diversity so naturally makes this band a true creative force.

Along with the release of  Trench the group has also created music videos for “Jumpsuit” and “Nico And The Niners,” which go hand-in-hand, creating an extended cinema-like experience.

Much like in their music, the message or plot in these videos isn’t immediately clear. There are a couple interesting focus points, however. The clips seem to tell the story of some kind of cult-like group with two separate classes: those dressed in long bright red hooded capes and those dressed in a mismatched uniform of green with odd yellow accents. It’s in these steampunk like uniforms that we see the members of the band. And it’s no surprise that their attire matches very well with the album cover art.

These two videos also have a repeated theme of bright yellow flowers. In the  “Jumpsuit” clip, people shown showering the bright petals off a mountain cliff down below to Joseph as he sings. In the “Nico And The Niners” clip, the same type of flowers are shown dead and dried but being kept safe by Joseph.

Within the first month of the album’s release, they’ve also created another music video for the song “My Blood”, which does not share the same story line as its sister tracks. Again, this diversity in every aspect of their music production demonstrates true creativity. The two allow their ideas to run full speed in every and any direction they find. This video shows a visibly lighter world and gives a warm and unified feeling. It shows an unbreakable bond between two brother as they go through life. However, it would be a product of Twenty One Pilots if it didn’t have a twist at the end.

The best way to experience the creative talent of Twenty One Pilots is to simply listen to the album from start to finish. It’s unusual to hear songs that you can classify as alternative on one track (‘Jumpsuit’) , then rap on the next (‘Levitate’).  Jazz runs though the bridge of ‘Morph’.  ‘Neon Gravestones’ bring back a mellow poetic rap style we’ve heard from the two before. An entirely new blend of hip-hop mixed with a groovy reggae flow are created in ‘Nico And The Niner’ using synthesizers and a ukulele.

What’s truly astounding is that despite the endless variety, all 14 songs are complied into one album that stands together as a single cohesive piece. Personally, I think this album is a great change of pace for what main stream music sounds like right now.

Twenty One Pilots is a great band that has rightfully earned their spot on the charts. They consistently find a way to create music that’s outside the box without bursting the envelope.

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.

Rachel is a Journalism and Communications major student in Southern California. She has also studied briefly at Arizona State University. She started her journalism career in high school where she attended and competed in 3 consecutive years at the JEA/NSPA National Higher Journalism Convention. Currently, Rachel is working to finish her degree, and in her free time she enjoys hiking, going to the beach, and fueling her love for coffee and books.

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