By Staff Writer Tighe Ratcliffe.
The band, the pop-powerhouse duo Twenty One Pilots. The album, the long awaited Trench. In June 2017, Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun wrapped up their “Emotional Road Show” tour for their critically acclaimed album Blurryface where it all began for the two: their hometown of Columbus Ohio. And then, Silence. The boys went quiet on social media for a year. The Skeleton Clique, the name of the fanbase for the band, went crazy. Things only escalated when the band’s website starting giving cryptic messages and links about this strange place called “Dema.”
Fan theories went rampant with every new clue until finally, the Clique got their answer: Trench. On July 11th 2018, fans (myself included) excitedly awoke to two new Songs: “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners” which took the listeners into the strange land of Dema and Trench. A place in which themes like insecurity, anxiety, depression, and mental illness influence Dema’s inhabitance all the while being controlled by a cult of nine bishops: “Nico and the Niners.” Those in Dema though have a chance to escape, by joining the rebellious group called the “Banditos.” Of which Dun and Joseph are a part of.
Trench picks up where Blurryface left off. Blurryface was a character Joseph created to personify his deepest insecurities, anxieties, and depression. Dema and Trench take all of these concepts, builds upon them and creates a whole world out of it. Further call backs to the Blurryface era include sun-glasses, a red beanie, and a shirt that Joseph wore when performing in the “Nico and the Niners” music video. There are also many call backs to old songs in this album. In addition to “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners” the band also released two other songs before the release of the album: “Levitate” and “My Blood.”
On October 5th the rest of the album dropped, and fans around the world went crazy. Trench is very different then the bands last 3 albums Regional at Best, Vessel, and Blurryface. These three albums had fast paced beats, melodies, and lyrics overall. Trench on the other hand, resembles their first self-titled album Twenty One Pilots, more closely.
It’s a bit slower in pace, but it still bumps, a quality that all Twenty One Pilots songs share. For fans who preferred the self-titled album, Trench gives off a similar vibe in my opinion. But at the same time, it feels completely different than any of their previous albums. Because both Joseph and Dun are self-taught musicians, they never realized that bands typically follow certain “rules” and stick to one particular genre. This makes Twenty One Pilots unique in the music world. Their albums sound completely different than anything else, yet still vaguely reminisce specific genre’s.
When listening to Trench, one can expect the distinct and ever-present drum beats provided by Josh Dun, and subtle piano and ukulele melodies or the bumping bass riffs of Tyler Joseph. But the lyrics have to be the best part of Trench. Twenty One Pilots are well known to talk about subject matters that most artist wont even contemplate about discussing like anxiety, depression, insecurities, mental health, and suicidal thoughts.
One of the bands messages that carries through all of their albums is “Stay Alive.” A message that to many fans means everything when they’re suffering alone. The song “Neon Gravestone” drives this point harder than possibly any song they’ve written in the past. It calls out our society’s tradition of glorifying those (celebrities) who have committed suicide, thus “romanticizing” the thought of taking your life.
Even though this album deals with serious subject matter, the album does have plenty of songs that deal with lighter topics that long time and new listeners alike will love. Songs like “Jumpsuit,” “Levitate,” “Morph,” “My Blood,” and “Chlorine” I feel will become fan favorites because of their subject matter and sick beats and melodies. The messages of the songs “Smithereens” and “Legend” might not make as much sense to some listeners unless they know a little about Joseph. “Smithereens” is about Tyler’s wife Jenna, and how her role in his life has greatly impacted his mental health. Joseph loving says “For you, I’d go| Step to a dude much bigger than me| For you, I know| I would get messed up, weigh 153| For you| I would get beat to smithereens.” While “Legend” is about Joseph’s Grand-Father who passed away while he was writing this album. His grandfather Robert, was pictured on the right side of the album Vessel, and played an important role in Joseph’s life.
The album wraps up with the song “Leave the City” in which one can feel Joseph is talking about coming to terms with his mental health, and the struggle to cope with it and start the road to recovery. This is what Trench is truly about, getting the strength to leave Dema, a place where all your insecurities, anxiety and depression come to life. In a way, the song is the end of one journey and the start of another. The last lyric “They know what I mean” is implying that people who’re in the process of starting the road to recovery all know the feeling of uncertainty that this time brings. And that’s what this song is about.
Overall, Trench is an amazing album, and it becomes more amazing the more you listen to it. It really feels like Tyler and Josh spent every waking moment making this album be the best that it could be. Their next tour, the “Bandito” Tour, starts October 16th in Nashville. They’ll be in Boston on the 26th, and you can bet that I’ll be there. For those old and new to the Clique, Trench is the beginning of a new and exciting era for Twenty One Pilots. I highly recommend that you give it a listen.
PHOTO COURTESY: TWENTY ONE PILOTS