Trench by Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots is a group I've never quite gotten the fuzzies for. Between their overly-earnest and childish lyrics betraying some genuine talent on the mic from frontman Tyler Joseph and their complete inability to make genrehopping between rap, rock, white people reggae, electronica, and singer-songwriter balladry into a cohesive sound, I've never been part of the Clique, so to say. The recent release of Trench certainly gives me an excuse to rant about them, but what I got when I started digging was a record that deeply conflicted me. Much improved from Blurryface, absolutely, but old habits die as hard as the suicides we apparently romanticize (more on that later). All I can say is bring good headphones and a skip button.

Ostensibly a concept album about escaping totalitarianism, Trench sees the duo finally grasp the art of subtlety. Opener "Jumpsuit" features razor bass and a limber groove, lyrically easing into the concept with the emotions packed neatly around the edges. "Morph" is equally excellent, seeing Tyler looking up rather than in over another cool, bassy groove. The record also features a very cohesive sound, managing to merge all the rapping and synths like the duo couldn't before. The problem comes with "Neon Gravestones". Lyrically obtrusive, dropping A Very Serious Message on your toes like a frozen turkey, it murders the pace of the record, and while later cuts like "Cut My Lip" pick it back up, you're reminded that Twenty One Pilots have their reputation for a reason. Still, Trench is a sign of growth—no small feat for the guys that ride oversized tricycles in their music videos.


Essential: "Jumpsuit", "Morph", "Cut My Lip"
Quintessential: "Nico and the Niners"
Non-essential: "Neon Gravestones"

Rating: Good
Listen on Spotify