Review: Twenty One Pilots ‘Blurryface’


Blurryface is Twenty One Pilots fourth album (second since signing with Fueled By Ramen) and it was released back in May. It is a delicacy of a huge array of genres; the lads have pushed the boundaries of music and created something fresh and exciting. The name ‘blurryface’ comes from the personification of singer/piano/ukuleleist Tyler Joseph’s insecurities and anxieties; its use results in an honest and open collection of thoughts.

Blurryface starts off with “Heavydirtysoul”, a song that’s as far removed from their 2013 album Vessel as possible. It has a pop-electronic sound with a hint of 80s in it with Joseph taking his rapping to a whole new level. With lyrics taken from some old street poetry of Tyler’s (most notably ‘death inspires me like a dog inspires a rabbit‘), it’s a very attention grabbing start to the album.

The highlight of the album comes in the second song “Stressed Out”, including the video where Tyler and drummer Josh Dun relive their childhood with low rider bikes and juice boxes. Its catchy and relatable on both an obvious and a deeper level. ‘Blurryface’ makes his first appearance and it’s a common theme throughout the album for ‘him’ to be used as the voice of negativity.

The best lyrics are in the third track ‘Ride‘ which is the first song on the album with a reggae vibe, and like with most Twenty One Pilots songs, it is sad lyrics enveloped in a happy tune. Tyler starts off in search of happiness and ‘pieces of peace in the sun’s peace of mind‘ before going down a negative slope with ‘yeah I think about the end just way too much, but its fun to fantasize, on my enemies I wouldn’t wish who I was, but it’s fun to fantasize.’ Its also on this track that we get to hear (and see in the video) Tyler playing the bass for the first time.

The first song they released from the album was ‘Fairly Local‘, which seemed somewhat like an ode to the fans, who are even directly mentioned ‘even if the clique were to pick and the people were to vote its the few, the proud, the emotional‘ (their fanbase call themselves the Skeleton Clique). He tells us ‘I’m fairly local, I’ve been around, I’ve seen the streets you’re walking down‘, mirroring a common theme in the overall Twenty One Pilots message that you’re not alone. There is also an interesting and clever contrast within the verses, the first being negative and the second being a positive rewording of the first.

If you haven’t listened to the album yet, you’ve probably at least heard ‘Tear In My Heart‘ playing on the radio (particularly on afternoon Today FM). It’s definitely the most mainstream song on the album, and so far its their only love song. It’s a pop-rock piano powerhouse, all about taking off your armour in order to feel alive and to feel loved. As the album progresses, you’re introduced to even more genres from reggae dubstep (Lane Boy), to happy ukulele sounds (The Judge) and even a hint of 90s boyband (Doubt). Compared to the previous album, drummer Josh Dun has also stepped up his game, massively, and has taken his skills to a whole new level. On certain songs you’d be hard pressed to believe Dun is doing it and not a computer (Lane Boy in particular). We even get to hear him play the trumpet for a bit in “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV”. We definitely need more of that.

The album ends with what is undoubtedly the most powerful song on the album “Goner”. It was first released to the world as a rough demo in 2012, but has since been polished and remoulded into the song it was always meant to be. It is a cry for help behind a slow and beautiful piano melody, building up faster and eventually ends up with Tyler screaming ‘don’t let me be gone‘.

On paper this album shouldn’t really work. There are so many genres stuffed into the one place, but not only does it work but it’s one of the most innovative albums released in a very long time. With the success of Vessel it would have been easy for them to crumble under the pressure of matching up to it, but instead they seemed to have taken that pressure and used it to their advantage, both lyrically and musically, by creating something completely new. This album is just a wild ride from start to finish.

Stay strong, live on, and power to the local dreamer |-/

Words by Lissa


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