Twenty One Pilots having been getting quite a lot of talk. The question is, do they deserve it?
The duo’s new album, Blurryface, was easily my most anticipated of this year. Their debut major label record, Vessel, has, since I’ve reviewed it, become my most replayed album of all time. No lie. It was that good. Expectations were through the roof with this new album. So is it better than Vessel, or does it end up being a blur with no distinction within the overly saturated music scene? Let’s see….
The album begins with the three word…. word, “Heavydirtysoul.” Already with the title alone we see the duo’s creativity take center stage. After we’re welcomed in by some industrial type sounds, we are greeted by Tyler’s amazing spitting/rapping, before changing up with a pre-chorus which contains some of my favourite lyrics: Gangstas don’t cry, therefore I’m Mr. Misty eyed.” Yeah, it’s a little cheesy, but I really like it. This whole track gives off a similar vibe that “Ode to Sleep” did on Vessel. While not quite as good as that track, it’s still a great way to open the record.
Next we have “Stressed Out.” Before I go on, I think the concept of this record needs to be shone on. The character of Blurryface is a representation of Tyler’s insecurities and fears, and it’s here that we get to see Blurryface make his first appearance. The song is about wishing one could return to the days of their childhood because now we’re stressed out…. and they’re laughing at our face saying ‘wake up you need to make money.’ Not only does it have smart lyrics like, Out of student loans and tree house homes we all would take the ladder, which you could see two ways as “Latter,” and “Ladder,” but the music and beat is just so catchy and addicting. One of the best songs of their career from my eyes.
From here on, the record defiantly flies off the tracks and doesn’t return. Track three, “Ride,” caught me off guard with its reggae leanings, but yet the song never feels like a departure for the band. Those same reggae sparks are found in “Message Man” and, to a lesser extent, “Lane Boy.”
All these different styles can be seen as a negative, or a positive, depending on the listener. Personally, despite the songs being top notch, I found the album’s flow being jolted a couple of times. After the album takes you on a fun “Ride,” the record does a complete 180 with the darker “Fairly Local.” Changes like this happen constantly, and it makes the record feel less like a cohesive whole than it really is. Even the concept of Blurryface feels forgotten until you hear Tyler say I’ve got two faces, blurry’s the one I’m not, in the album’s final track, “Goner,” and you remember what this album was all about. However, this is honestly the only negative I could pull from the album.
Each and every song is constructed with great thought, and as a result, nothing feels rushed. There isn’t a moment I wanted to skip past, and even when a song does drag on a little too long (i.e. the end of “Lane Boy”) it’s still entertaining and avoids the pit of stagnant songwriting a lot of other artists in the genre fall into far too often. Another high note is Tyler’s voice, which has greatly improved from their self-titled, and even from Vessel.
In the end it can easily be said that this is one incredible album, and surpasses every expectation I had beforehand. But above all, it holds its own over time. The concept is clever and original, and though the character of Blurryface may have felt left behind in the last third of the record, the album is still a cohesive whole on the lyrical side, and each song brings a story that belongs and doesn’t feel out of place. Musically however, this feels a little less so, like the jump from “The Judge,” to “Doubt,” but with songs as good as these, it’s easily forgiven.
Overall I couldn’t be happier with this release. Is it better than Vessel? Not quite, but the boys have once again crafted something special with Blurryface. It’s an album I’m sure we’ll still be hearing about ten years from now. Why? Because it’s relatable. Everyone has their insecurities, doubts, and fears; and when an album like this comes along and talks about it in an honest light, while still bringing hope and encouragement, it becomes more than a tune. It becomes a good friend.