Twenty One Pilots create a new world in Trench

Four months ago when we received the first taste of the latest era in Twenty One Pilots’ discography, it felt like October 5 would never arrive. Despite numerous leaks, both alleged and confirmed, the sun has risen and Trench is here.

In 2015’s Blurryface, we were introduced to a singularity; a character that shared a name with the album’s title. We all came to believe that this character would end with the last show in the boys’ hometown of Columbus, Ohio as the final notes of Trees were played at the Schottenstein Center. In Trench, we get to see the story of Blurryface and his relation to lead singer, Tyler Joseph, mutate into an entire, fleshed out world that I can only describe as the musical equivalent of a cinematic universe.

In Trench, Tyler and Josh push beyond the bounds of expressing the thoughts of their own issues in order to experiment with new sounds, pump us up with new passion for this band, and crush our spirits with new, hard-hitting lyrics that will inevitably adorn our bodies in tattoo form.

Let’s get started with a song-by-song review of the record:

    1. JumpsuitThe lead single from the album sets up a sound change for the band with a strong bass line that cements it as a full-on rock track. It builds perfectly and culminates in some of Tyler’s best scream vocals since Goner.
    1. LevitateA seamless transition from track one and my favorite of the first four singles. We get a perfect flow from Tyler’s vocals here and an exceptional music video to match. There are some great one liners here, most notably Tyler’s first self-comparison to the vulture that adorns the album cover.
    1. MorphMorph goes all in on the Nicholas Bourbaki lore that was established early on in story of Trench. It reminds me a lot of Electric Guest’s most recent album and is instantly catchy.
    1. My BloodMy Blood feels like something a band like Foster The People might go with as a lead single. I mean that as a big compliment. The perfect falsetto falls into the chorus and a few really meaningful lines about family and sacrifice for others make this another really nice song.
    1. ChlorineChlorine has multiple genres living inside it with beautifully raw vocals in the outro. It’s got the same post-Blurryface sound that Heathens but with far more techno aspects to it.
    1. SmithereensAfter Tear In My Heart, this one is solidified as the band’s second love song ever. It’s a sweet note passed from Tyler to his lovely wife, Jenna with hip hop sounds mixed with a fair share of reggae.
    1. Neon GravestonesThis cathedral sounding ballad is one of my favorite tracks from the record, if not one of my favorite Twenty One Pilots songs ever. It dismisses the glory that society can sometimes place on suicide instead of dealing with it as a serious issue. The band’s lyrics over the year’s have consistently told us to “stay alive”, and Neon Gravestones delivers that same message in more complicated ones.
    1. The HypeI had a hard time putting my finger on what this could mean. It’s a catchy, radio-friendly song for the band that has an odd 1990s vibe to me. I enjoyed it, but don’t fully understand it just yet.
    1. Nico and the NinersA more in-depth look at the world of Dema. It characterizes ‘Nico and the Niners’ in the story as something larger than the band can control. Perhaps something seeking to control them. I feel like it’s this album’s Lane Boy or a big middle finger to what the music industry expects of this ever-changing, genre-bending band.
    1. Cut My LipCut My Lip is unfortunately my least favorite song on the record, but still has good qualities with sounds similar to My Blood and a nice bridge. I hope it grows on me. Update: it did grow on me 🙂
    1. BanditoBandito has a nice flowing chorus that builds seamlessly throughout the song with a nice synth. It has a slow dance-y atmosphere to it.
    1. Pet CheetahThe sounds of Trench culminate in Pet Cheetah. It’s going to be a constant struggle with it and Neon Gravestones for my favorite song of the record. It has my favorite rap of the album and grows perfectly as the tune moves along. It also makes me really want to check to see if I have a pet cheetah in my basement.
    1. LegendIn this pure dedication to Tyler’s grandfather, we get to see a sweet appreciation for a man that our lead singer looked up to so much. His grandfather passed away this spring, but the last words of the song leave us on a hopeful note that he will see his grandpa again one day.
    1. Leave the CityIt’s not the conclusion I expected from Trench, but it’s a perfect close to the narrative of this story. I get the feeling that it does leave the door open for a deeper dive into this world on another album in the future. It’s more reserved than Goner or Trees, but is great in its own right.

Trench is easily the biggest leap that Twenty One Pilots have taken in their career so far. They have created a full on universe that lives inside the record. Each song becomes a part of that universe and furthers the narrative that eventually pushes us out of silence and into serenity. I often go a bit overboard with saying “this is my favorite *insert movie, album, etc. here* of the year”, but genuinely, Trench is the album to beat in 2018. It’s a very solid fifth outing for one of my favorite bands of all time and has me more ready than ever to see them live once again.

My Favorite Songs: Pet Cheetah, Neon Gravestones, Levitate, Chlorine