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Album Review: Twenty One Pilots // Blurryface

blurryface

‘Heavydirtysoul’ is a fast-paced, strong opener just like ‘Ode to Sleep’ was on their 2013 breakthrough album Vessel. The song’s verses are all from an old street poem Tyler Joseph, the lead singer of the band, performed a few years back which delicately bridges the older Twenty One Pilots era with the new.

With four producers including Mike Elizondo (Eminem, Dr. Dre) and Mike Crossey (Foals, Arctic Monkeys), they made certain no genre gets left behind. There are three known elements to a Twenty One Pilots song: The skewed and different-paced bridges, fast rapping, and a lot of ukulele, (‘The Judge’, ‘Message Man’), and that is just about the only promised thing you can expect. The more electronica-heavy ‘Lane Boy’ and ‘Polarize’ deals with a reggae vibe without it being cliche, ‘Not Today’ is an upbeat song with a heavy heart, and its contradicting style of writing is a familiar way for Tyler to separate the wheat from the chaff listener-wise. However, the third to last song ‘Hometown’ stands out simply because it is the most predictable straightforward song in their catalogue. An immediate flashback to Lana Del Rey’s ‘Summertime Sadness’ only at a faster pace.

“Blurryface is a character,” says Tyler, “that represents all the things that I as an individual and everyone around me are insecure about.” He is pinpointing and putting a face and a song title to several of those. As fast and restless as ‘Heavydirtysoul’ opens the album, the slow-building ‘Goner’ ends it. It accepts those insecurities and worries and stands by it. ‘Goner’ was the last song to be finished for Blurryface but is ironically also the oldest song of the bunch, earlier released as a video in 2012, and yet again, the history of Twenty One Pilots comes full circle.

After the entire album was leaked days early by the band itself and the first five singles all released within the previous two months alone, some speculated why they had chosen perhaps lesser radio-friendly songs as singles, which begs the question whether or not this was intentional. After all, everything the band is in charge of seem to be a strategic chess match with very few creative coincidences.

The third invisible member of Twenty One Pilots is without a doubt the fans. There is a constant dynamic conversation between them and the listener; there are choices to be made on ‘The Judge’, “I don’t know if this song / is a surrender or a revel / I don’t know if this one / is about me or the devil”, and truthful worries about anxieties and self-doubt on ‘Stressed Out’ and ‘Fairly Local’. Tyler’s writing is intended for a live audience, it requires attention but it never dictates it, a fine line they once again manage to uphold on Blurryface.