Twenty One Pilots Reinvent Rock

Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” is a critically acclaimed play that keeps getting revived on Broadway. I saw the most recent production Starring Annette Bening and Tracey Letts.

It tells the story of an American defense contractor who knowingly sold defective plane parts that led to the deaths of 21 pilots during the war.

Vocalist Tyler Joseph took the name for his band from this play. He is the principal songwriter for the duo. His childhood friend Josh Dun is the drummer.

I loved the play. Arthur Miller became one of my favorite playwrights. Consequently, Twenty One Pilots are now one of my favorite artists in music.

The duo from Akron, Ohio did not try to sell themselves. Playing low key gigs in their home state until one fateful show with 1,200 local fans and 12 record label reps in the crowd took them by surprise.

They have recorded 4 studio albums. The third album”Blurryface” was their breakthrough to the commercial mainstream. The song “Stressed Out” went triple platinum.

I found them on SNL. Then I went to hear all of their music online. I could not stop listening. Their sound was unique. How could a rock duo seemingly reinvent the genre?

Tyler Joseph discovered for himself how to express personal struggles with depression, doubt, and survival using his voice. He plays keyboards/synth. The music has no guitar. This became revelatory to their success.

I felt strongly that no other artist reflected these times better. Exploring themes of faith, mental illness, death, insecurity and suicide on their eponymous debut, “Vessels”, and “Blurryface”, the duo took a year off to write a story focusing on the painful end of an order based on faith.

Their recent offering, “Trench”, was a concept record well received by fans and critics alike. Set in the fictional city of Dema, in a world known as Trench. Clancy, the main protagonist, takes a personal journey into this decaying culture to discover Nine Bishops control this crumbling society.

Trench Album & Josh Dun with Tyler Joseph seen above.

Dema means Towers of Silence. In Zoroastrianism the dead are placed inside of towers made of stone. Black Vultures feed on them. Ecology falters leading to the disappearance of these sentries to the eternal.

The songs tell the story well. Tyler Joseph and Paul Meaney of indie band Mutemath wrote all 14 tracks and produced the album.

‘Jumpsuit’ opens the record. A protective article of clothing needed to survive in Trench. ‘Levitate’ & ‘Morph’ describe the actions required to move around dangerous sections of the city.

The vocals vary from soft to outcries; falsetto to baritone; sometimes in the span of a single song.

‘My Blood’, ‘Chlorine’, ‘Smithereens’, and ‘Neon Gravestones’ cover more ground. The joining together to fend off enemies, cleansing away dark thoughts, and sacrificing for your community are expressed in these tracks. The music insists on our resisting old thoughts to operate in a discovery of improved life.

‘The Hype’, ‘Nico and the Niners’, ‘Cut My Lip’, ‘Bandito’ and ‘Pet Cheetah’ follow in quick order. The action moves fast; the thoughts need time to be absorbed.

This album takes more than a few spins but rewards its listener with catchy beats and introspective lyrics. The pop elements repeat a lot. I found it more soothing than irritant.

‘Legend’ and ‘Leave The City’ are about survival. Coping with new circumstances becomes the salve.

If you have not listened to this music yet start with Blurryface or Vessels. While Trench is satisfying to the duo’s now established following, it may not grab a novice.

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