Somebody has to say it: Twenty One Pilots isn’t as good as they used to be. After listening to their newest album, Trench, I was taken aback by how synthesized and monotonous the band was sounding. The band I loved made cutting-edge music with clever lyrics and interesting instrumentation; this band was boringly consistent with repetitive lyrics and a choppy delivery. I started to wonder what happened; where did they go wrong?
This question brought me back to the best album they’ve ever made: Vessel. Released in 2013, this album features classics such as Ode to Sleep, Guns for Hands, Car Radio, and House of Gold, which show off the genre-pushing ideas the band was capable of. From the almost symphonic layout of Ode to Sleep with it’s grand transitions and build up, to the simple and wholesome House of Gold, featuring an iconic ukulele (which didn’t make it into Trench), the band was unique in almost every way. The lyrics were often clever, and although they could be dark and introspective, they never tried to be edgy; they were sincere. This album brought a large amount of well-deserved attention to the band, and their next studio album was an even bigger success.
Released in 2015, Blurryface gained popularity due to catchy and rhythmic songs like Ride and Stressed Out. As a result, the band entered the mainstream culture and was even played on the radio (ironic when you listen to Fairly Local). At first I couldn’t stop listening, but this album certainly didn’t age as well as Vessel. I noticed it the more I listened: the songs were formulaic. A majority of them featured prominent electronic melodies, edgy lyrics, and stripped down instrumentation. They were pushing the envelope for sure, but in the wrong direction, not to mention the lyrics were much more repetitive than those in Vessel. I wasn’t really upset about Blurryface, just disappointed. I figured they were just trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience and I couldn’t blame them for that. However, by the time they started releasing singles off of Trench, something had gone too far.
These songs were so ridiculously edgy and cliche, it was almost unbearable. From the constant references to death and depression, to the empty critiques of “culture”, you could tell they had lost their original spirit. Most likely, they saw how popular their darker songs on Blurryface were and they ran with it, essentially filling the void of the “edgy” band. In the short-run it’s no big deal, but I guarantee Trench won’t have the same longevity as Vessel: the newer fans of Trench are going to get tired of the edgy vocals and repetition and move on, while the older fans will still be listening to Vessel. Moving forward I’m curious to see where they go; they might prove me right by dropping another repetitive and monotonous album, or maybe they’ll surprise me with a revival of the energy that made them so great. Either way I’ll be keeping an eye out, because at the end of the day, they’re still one of the most interesting bands around.
(Image credits: Google Images)