Twenty One Pilots’ “Trench”: Was it Worth the Year Long Wait?
By Karina Rodriguez
Twenty One Pilots is an American music duo from Columbus, Ohio, formed in 2009 by lead vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. The duo self-released two albums in 2009 and 2011 respectively before being signed by Fuel by Ramen in 2012. The band achieved breakthrough success with its fourth album “Blurryface” and the successful single “Stressed Out.” The standalone single “Heathens” was recorded for the film “Suicide Squad.” The group also won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in 2017.
In July, 2018, the duo broke their year long silence by releasing two new songs: “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners.” The announcement of its fifth studio album “Trench” was accompanied by a world tour titled “The Bandito Tour.” The release of “Trench” was highly anticipated, and in August, 2018, a Twitter user leaked a full song off the yet-to-be released album, but the song was then available on streaming services.
“Trench” is meant to explore themes of mental health, suicide, and doubt, which were common topics in the duo’s previous work. The album consists of 14 songs, with “Jumpsuit” as the opener. The song delivers a gradual tempo with a mix of heavy-handed guitar riffs, drums, and hushed vocals. The second single, “Levitate,” differs from “Jumpsuit” in its vocal delivery because Joseph incorporates sung and rapped lyrics, which, according to an interview with Variety is “often compared to Macklemore.”
The album is consistent with its intended musical style of rock, although the track “My Blood” is a much more heartfelt song accompanied with disco-sounding instrumentation, which I thought was more radio friendly. “Smithereens,” is a song that Joseph wrote for his wife. In the song, he sings about how he, as relative pacifist, would get into a fight for her even if he lost. Or, as he puts it, “Step up to a dude much bigger than me / I would get messed up, weigh 153.” This track delivers a more soothing and steady vibe compared to the rest of the album.
The album is meant to follow up on the success of “Blurryface,” which topped the Billboard 200 and produced two singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Although the duo successfully explores its intended topics of mental health, suicide, and doubt through allegory, the musical style and instrumentation is similar to their previous album, “Blurryface,” and is even reminiscent of their hit single, “Stressed Out.” Twenty One Pilots is known for its musical style of indie pop, rock, and emo rap, and it would have been nice for the duo to experiment with different musical styles after its long break.