Review Summary: While the intimate setting of their live show is missing, Twenty One Pilots make up for it with their strong songwriting.
The transition from the album version of a song to a live cut can sometimes be very strange. Jam bands such as Dave Matthews band and O.A.R have mastered the art of putting on a great live show, but in the process of recording an album the songs sometimes lose some of that magic that made them so special. Twenty One Pilots are a local Ohio band that is known for their energetic live shows where the energy is focused on dancing rather than moshing. While the intimate setting of a live show is obviously missing on the Twenty One Pilots self titled release, the strength of the songwriting will quickly have you forgetting.
For those who don't know, Twenty One Pilots are an up and coming Indie/Electronic trio from Columbus Ohio. The trio consists of Tyler Joseph (vocals, piano, and sampling), Chris Salih (drums), and Nick Thomas (bass). They play a style of electronic music where they trade in simple dance tracks for meaningful songs based around Tyler Josephs' manic lyrics and the grooving rhythm section. The first thing you will notice about the band is Tyler Josephs' unique style as a vocalist. He has a very emotional singing voice which he often mixes with a frantic rapping style. His lyrics often cover depression, faith, hope, and the meaning of life. While his lyrics border desperation, he balances all the gloom with glances of optimism. Every dark corner or moment of despair, there is a glimmer of hope somewhere.
"Implicit Proof Of Demand" starts the album off with a classical influenced piano intro that is covered by a soft string section. The song climaxes at about the minute and a half mark with the band coming in with a thunderous percussion section on top of a sample. The verses have Tyler speaking lines such as "Rain down/ and destroy me" over a lone piano. The song ends just how it started with a piano playing until the song fades. "Trap Door", "Before You Start Your Day", Oh Ms. Believer, and "March To The Sea" all follow the same formula of piano based verses with large emotional climaxes with great success.
Fan favorite "The Pantaloon" has the most optimistic tone of the album but the lyrical content says otherwise with lines such as "It's warmer in the morning/than what it is at night/Your bones are held together by your nightmares and your frights". However, the sing along chorus of "You are tired/You are hurt/A moth ate through your favorite shirt" will quickly distract you from the abstract nature of the lyrics. "Fall Away" contains a dark chorus with great rapped verses. "Taxi Cab" is a mostly piano based song that sticks out because of what is perhaps the best rapped verse on the entire album. "A Car, A Torch, A Death" remains very quiet until it explodes midway through the track,
"Addict With A Pen” and "Isle Of Flightless Birds" are the strongest tracks on the album and have the most in common of all the songs. "Addict With A Pen" starts as a lone piano song. The beats and samples come in to create an ambient like passage followed by a rapped verse. The sample and piano lead the rest of the song out with samples of Tyler singing are spliced up in the distance. "Isle Of Flightless Birds" ends the album perfectly with rhythm heavy verses and a large chorus. There are two rapped verses, the first being a somewhat silly sounding verse and the second being the second best on the album.
While not being particularly the most innovative album, Twenty One Pilots make up for it with their strong songwriting and messages conveyed through their music. Songs "Friend Please" and "Johnny Boy" serve as the weakest tracks on the album. Not because they are bad in anyway, but are overshadowed by how superb the other tracks are. Twenty One Pilots are a band that are coming out on their own, and I can't wait to see what lies in store for them.
Addict With A Pen
A Car, A Torch, A Death
Isle Of Flightles Birds