Three years ago, Twenty One Pilots released ‘Blurryface’, an album that propelled the duo to unforeseen heights. After extensive radio play and soundtrack appearances, the group have ventured into new sonic avenues as shown on fifth album, ‘Trench’.
Opening up with lead single ‘Jumpsuit’, the duo meld garage rock style bass lines with shuffling beats. The track showcases multiple dynamic shifts, from sparse piano breaks to screamed lyrics, propelling the track’s momentum.
This rapid movement of the single is representative of the compositional approach of the entire record, with Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun rarely giving a moment to recover from the impact of each section.
A plethora of influences are splashed across the record, giving their core sound a new distinction. ‘Smithereens’ plays around with a woodwind lead, whilst ‘The Hype’ brings Spanish guitars to the forefront. Regardless of what style the track is wrapped in, each one is distinctly Twenty One Pilots through and through.
Dun pushes the pace of each track with reserve and intensity in equal measure. ‘Cut My Lip’ highlights how the percussion dictates the material, taking a relatively simple pattern and adding syncopation to the hi-hats, creating a bounce. As the bridge progresses, the drums build the tension before exploding into the coda.
‘Pet Cheetah’ delves headfirst into experimentation, blurring the roles and placement of each instrument. Joseph changes his flow throughout the track, navigating us through synth stabs and trap beats. Reversed chords and effects laden vocals not only form the bridge, they also evolve into the final chorus, being held together by his strong vocal hook.
‘My Blood’ pays no attention to conventional structure, allowing the melodies and hooks to guide the audience. Grungy bass lines play against floating strings before sliding into brass lead lines and shimmering chords. Each section gently crashes into one another amidst Joseph‘s musings before reaching a sparse crescendo.
Ending the record is ‘Leave The City’, a slow building cut that reaches dizzying levels of intensity. It bounds between scattered beats and falsetto vocals before peeling away each layer until we’re left with a piano and Joseph‘s ruminations on his newfound relationship with fame.
Intimate and drifting through notes, lines such as “Even though I’m far from home / In the trench I’m not alone” creates a fitting and poignant end to a grandiose album.