This is an extraordinarily difficult album to write a review for. It is music that should not be judged or evaluated, just appreciated.
Twenty One Pilots was born in Columbus, Ohio, originally consisting of Tyler Joseph, Nick Thomas,and Chris Salih. When the latter two chose to pursue other interests in 2011, Joshua Dun joined the band as drummer (with Joseph on vocals, piano, and occasionally ukulele), creating the duo we see today. Blurryface is their fourth album, and a resounding success. There’s an undeniable charisma to all fourteen songs, which make use of everything from guitar to piano to synthesizer, all paired with Tyler’s meticulously written poetry.
The album opens with “HeavyDirtySoul,” a frantic, static-filled fan favorite that ploughs into a fast-paced rap, then a stuck-in-your-head-all-day-even-in-the-bathroom chorus. It is the perfect preview of the remainder of Blurryface, with lyrics you are compelled to listen to again and just think about for a moment.
Their breakout hits “Stressed Out” and “Ride” of course deserve a shout out, as being grossly overplayed on the radio doesn’t make them any less consequential. “The Judge” sees a playful ukulele intro and some cheery vocalizing, making it the most lighthearted track on the album. The lyrics share a powerful dichotomy with the bubblybackground track, as do many of these other tracks.
Of course, there are always low points to any album to ever exist, including this one. “Hometown” relies on stale beats, choppy vocals, and electronic notes rather than the raw piano in most other songs, resulting in a soggy, generic tune you’d expect to hear in a Forever 21 store. Not their most impressive work. “Doubt” brings expectations crashing down to the ground as well, again employing digital sound effects and few truly emotional lyrics. Though no doubt (phun fully intended) a catchy song, it’s much more worth searching for meaning behind other tracks like “Not Today” than in this one.
Twenty One Pilots has ridden the success of breakout hits “Stressed Out” and “Heathens” to the top of the charts, but they have left some genuinely meaningful songs behind. It takes a lot of talent to connect with so many people who believe they are broken. And while there will always be critics, including me, there will always be fans, including me.
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