August 18, 2015 Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface (Album Review)
Anyone looking for a hybrid sound Rap, Pop, Alt-Rock, Electro, R&B, Folk, Reggae, all at the same time, well then Twenty One Pilots is all one needs. Even if a listener does not crave a crazy mash-up, they will, once they hear this talented Midwestern based duo consisting of college friends Tyler Joseph (lead singer, pianist, ukulele extraordinaire, along with several other instruments) and Josh Dun (drummer). If their name does not sound familiar, it is time to get up to speed because these guys have taken over the music scene with their crazy mix of genres, unusual instruments, and deep lyricism.
To add to the list of musical talents, all of their lyrics are poetry written by Joseph which are not about one topic in particular, but they are so compelling they will almost make listeners begin to question the meaning of life. It may sounds crazy, but from their first self-released albums Twenty One Pilots in 2009, Regional at Best in 2011, to their breakout album 2012 album Vessel, and finally to their newest release Blurryface, their lyricism haunts as well as leaves one with a strong open mind and in a way playing devil’s advocate for their own thoughts.
Blurryface keeps with their usual uniqueness; yes that is an oxymoron, and keeps a listener paying close attention to the lyrics about trying to fight off a man named ‘Blurryface’ who is causing the world to be insecure, self-loathing beings who cannot get out of a dark blur he leaves one in. Beginning with a song entitled “Heavydirtysoul,” following the name, it starts with a heavy feedback sound mixed with white noise that then becomes a fast pace Rap that has one listening to just the first thirty seconds at least six times to make sure every word is understood before moving to the next verse and creating a Funk/Soul-full sound for each chorus. As the audience listens to the words, and follows the beat, they work together to create a beginning to the album of not following the social norm, dealing with inner demons, and accepting a person as an individual as well as a movement. The third single, “Stressed Out” uses Joseph’s insecurities and wanting to bring back a feeling of nostalgia for his childhood, as well as, the sound from their last album. It is what makes this song relatable. The simplistic nature of the Electro beat, also adds to one’s listening experience.
Blurryface’s story continues with “Ride,” a song ripped from most people’s subconscious. Joseph’s lyrics once again are thought-provoking about the idea of taking a bullet for someone, but not actually following through on such an action, and also choosing to live for someone when living just seems like too much of a burden. A Reggae tone to the song lightens the mood, mixing Joseph’s usual use of the piano as well as synthetic sounds from an electronic keyboard, and slow drumbeat from Dun. Then come the first single off the album, “Fairly Local,” taking a darker sound and using heavy drumming, deep Electro sounds, and their lyrics of continuing the journey of feeling insecure, combined with fighting the self-loathing feeling.
“Tear In My Heart” is the second single and it is the only one to not bring up the image of ‘Blurryface.’ A lot have speculated the song is about Joseph’s wife, who is one of the few people he has felt comfortable with opening up about all his fears that have plagued him as he has written all of his music and poetry. This song is about letting someone in and how it changes him and how it makes him feel vulnerable but in a way that opened him up to love. It is upbeat, happy, with a simple piano and drum sound that builds as he gets happier and more comfortable in the relationship.
Changing the album’s atmosphere is “Lane Boy,” not about self doubt, but instead takes a stand against the musical industry that tries to keep artists sounding the same and not allowing them to grow and change their sound. Following this change comes “The Judge,” which if one has listened to the previous album, Vessel, reminds one of their old song “House of Gold.” It is Joseph on the ukulele and his sweetly sad vocals. Although they are not classified as a “Christian” musical group, a lot of their songs do present religious undertones, and “The Judge” has a very strong religious tone with the words begging for the ‘Judge’ to help him become free from the devil inside. “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” comes on a few songs later with the same upbeat ukulele tempo and questioning if the world will continue to love him as much as he loves his wife, family, and fans.
Furthermore, “Doubt,” “Polarize,” and “Message Man” mix their music with the R&B slow beats, Reggae tones, and almost what sounds like a Gospel sound. The songs continue to have the fight for being an individual, fighting demons, etc. It seems that a current trend in music is to bring the ’80s sound of Pop/Synth back, and “Hometown” has that sound for this album while it leads into “Not Today,” which has a strong bass line start and keeps in a general Rock sound.
Finally, ending the record is “Goner,” which had actually been a self-released demo in 2012. Possessing a simpler sound and a title that gives one a scary, hopeless feeling; the song is more a triumph song of defeating demons, fighting, staying strong, and having everyone Joseph loves helping defeat ‘Blurryface’. It builds from a very slow piano solo into an aggressive, almost Screamo Rock song for an epic ending to Blurryface.
Twenty One Pilots are an anomaly in the music industry, and it has proven to be their biggest strength. They have a broad spectrum of talents; from Joseph’s poetry lyrics, his singing, rapping, and screaming ability, to Joseph and Dun’s musical ability and undying love for the people who help them get over their inner demons so that they can help the rest of the world battle theirs. Their music has inspired the younger generation and CrypticRock gives Blurryface 5 out of 5 stars.