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Twenty One Pilots takes an alternative direction with new album ‘Trench’ By Josephine Yee

After over three years of eager anticipation from the Clique, the name for devout fans of Grammy-winning musical duo Twenty One Pilots, the band’s latest album, “Trench,” transcends expectations, providing an hour full of multidimensional tunes.

Since their release of “Blurryface” in 2015, the duo’s music has become the epitome of alternative, “teenage angst” music popularized by mainstream media. Especially reflected in their most-streamed songs, “Stressed Out” and “Heathens,” most of their last album consisted of regularized pop music with repeated choruses, melodic tunes and hints of alternative-inspired rhythms. This unfortunately left fans who have followed the band for their alternative style since the release of their debut album in 2009 disappointed.

After “Blurryface,” Twenty One Pilots decided to take a year-long hiatus that left fans questioning their disappearance. It was not until July of this year that they dropped a simple clue on Twitter—a short clip of an eye-opening. This short clip signified the opening of a new era—the “Trench” era.

Beginning with a hard-hitting headbanger and concluding with a melancholy ballad, “Trench” is a wholesome album that marks a high point in the band’s career. Every element of this album was a hit: the band’s signature alternative sounds, R&B-laced verses, reggae-inspired rhythms and classic pop choruses.

“Jumpsuit,” their new album’s opener, resolidifies the band’s strict alternative roots. The song is not only musically complex with avant-garde sounds, but it has a lyrical impact that reveals a spectrum of both vulnerability and anger.

This transition in musical production provides a refreshing sense of individuality, which is many steps above the amount of fulfillment garnered from their previous album.

Songs like “My Blood” and “Chlorine” have a similar tone to the opener and stay true to their original genre, which “Blurryface” could not quite achieve.

Even in this album, Twenty One Pilots has created a few noteworthy songs with heavy pop influences to affirm their mainstream presence. Towards the end, the album kicks back with “Legend,” a light-hearted pop song with feel-good chords.

The most notable songs on the album are “Nico and the Niners” and “Leave the City.” “Nico and the Niners” is a simple, yet two-dimensional song that is not only a catchy tune, but is also musically diverse with unique rhythms inspired by traditional reggae. It blends alternative and foreign sounds effectively, making the song a relaxed bop. “Leave the City,” the last song on “Trench,” slows down the pace of the album in an exceptional way, revealing a pit of raw emotion and honesty. “Last year, I needed a change of pace/couldn’t take the pace of change moving hastily/but this year I’m far from home in this trench, I’m not alone,” the lyrics reveal. With this as the defining lyric of the album, the entirety of the work comes together in this wholesome closure.

“Trench” proves that Twenty One Pilots is not a quintessential alt-pop band watered down by attention garnered over the past few years. Instead, it reveals their notability in making unique music for a wide collection of listeners.

Photos Courtesy of Fueled by Ramen.

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