Twenty One Pilots
Regional At Best


4.0
excellent

Review

by theNateman USER (25 Reviews)
February 29th, 2016 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A solid beginning for a bright career

Twenty One Pilots are everywhere. From headlining massive tours and having singles all over the radio to the legions of fangirls from hot topic, it's undeniable that they're pretty massive right now. They've gained a ton of fans, myself included, with two of the better indie pop albums of the decade. Before the mainstream success, they earned a reputation as an incredible live band. To help support their brutal touring schedule, they released Regional at Best. This demo was the work that got them noticed in the first place. Interestingly enough, many new fans of the band have disregarded this album. It's a total shame really, because not only does it match the band's major label work, but is ultimately a highlight of the whole genre.

The band's signature blend of piano rock, dance music, and hip hop is what makes up the DNA of Regional At Best, but without any of the over-the-top ambition and radio ready sheen that came with the following records. This gives the demo release a level of intimacy that their later works lack. It was this lack of big exposure that gave bandleader Tyler Joseph enough emotional security to feel brave enough to pour his heart and soul into this. He never expected anyone to hear him when he sung about car radios. The result" Some of the best lyrics Tyler has ever written are found here, with two of the best instances found on tracks like Anathema and Kitchen Sink. Instead of being directed to a crowd of people, like in their later works, Tyler's lyrics simply speak to his reflection or maybe even his best friend. Even when his brother (it's his brother right") guest spots on Kitchen Sink and Be Concerned, the lyrics are thematically tied together and blend extremely well.

Musically speaking, the synth and keyboard work is layered and complex, the drum work is energetic and the vocals are on point throughout, with prime examples found in the earlier versions of Guns for Hands and Lovely. However, because the release is a demo, the biggest problem here is the production. There's a noticeable lack of low end that's often so bad that the layers of synths almost drown out Josh's great drum work and Tyler's passionate vocals. The problem of the production is exacerbated by the fact the band rerecorded six of the tracks here for their next album Vessel, and all of them were improvements in every respect. The originals are great, but the rerecorded versions sound ten times better, so by comparison the songs here sound lackluster.

Despite the bad production, there is a surprising lack of filler- not one of the songs found here are bad. There's enough variety to keep even the most ADD listener interested, yet each song is consistent in sound and theme that it wraps itself up nicely by the album's end. This release is an extremely enjoyable and emotional listening experience, that may very well end up as Twenty One Pilots' most underrated work. If you were never a fan of the band before this, this album is good enough it may even change your mind. To all of those fans who've passed this up, grab it. Regional At Best has some of the band's best work to date.



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user ratings (177)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
theNateman
February 29th 2016


3159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shaking off the dust. Been a while and i'm rusty, so hit me up on how to improve this

Digging: The Beach Boys - The Smile Sessions

Pangea
February 29th 2016


2712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Finally this one got a review

LotusFlower
February 29th 2016


12002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Glowing Eyes is my jam

unaMUSEd
February 29th 2016


1441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Seeing this band explode the way they have has been great but I sort of miss being able to see them play a show to a room of 50 people when this was their most recent album.

LotusFlower
February 29th 2016


12002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i miss them making decent music

Brostep
Emeritus
February 29th 2016


4314 Comments


good rev Nate, have a pos on me. can try to give some constructive criticism if you'd like but this is pretty solid as is

haven't checked the album but as I have a decently love-hate relationship with TOP I'm not sure I will - if these are the best lyrics of their career, then I might feel differently about it, but your implication that Car Radio has pretty good lyrics means I probably won't like this either since I think that song's lyrics are downright atrocious haha

LotusFlower
February 29th 2016


12002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

as far as lyrics go, you have things that you would see as cringey as Car Radio (Kitchen Sink) but you do have some pretty sweet tracks like Glowing Eyes, Anathema, and Slowtown.



their first album is still their best by a large margin. Less painfully bad synths.

Brostep
Emeritus
February 29th 2016


4314 Comments


i'll look them up when I'm not in class, ty for the recs Cl0

LotusFlower
February 29th 2016


12002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

welcome m8, and you can skip all of the tracks that were re-released on Vessels. They sound pretty bad on here.

theNateman
February 29th 2016


3159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

clover, at least they don't have any of the "this song won't be on the radio because they won't get it" kind of crap on this one.



Unamused I feel you with that. I really hate how big these guys have gotten



And brostep, really? Thanks!



LotusFlower
February 29th 2016


12002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sure, it's not a bunch of pretentious dribble from an almost 30 year old man, but you still have some pretty silly ass lyrics that kinda lose their charm when sung on top of really bad synths. Glowing Eyes is still a jam forever and ever tho.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 29th 2016


25137 Comments


Will have to give this a try, only ever heard their two most recent

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1

Brostep
Emeritus
February 29th 2016


4314 Comments


yeah sure! sorry this is short, since I only have about 10 mins to type it, but here goes:

first of all, this is a solid review. your descriptors are good, your structure makes sense, and you cohesively argue a point - which is (of course) that the album is good. it's hard to objectively quantify what makes an album good/bad obv but you do about as good a job as you can here.

that said, one thing I think you can work on in the future is varying the structure of the review. it's fine as is, but what you could do is try to change it up from "history intro / good / bad / conclusion". some of the most exciting reviews (both here and elsewhere) that I've read change their focus from just a general overview of the album to why it matters and why it's exciting/terrible/mediocre. I know it took me a while to start to deviate from this formula (it took maybe 40-50 reviews before I finally started stepping out of the "comfort zone" I'm kinda describing here) but I think that if you put a conscious effort into seeing some reviews which switch up the standard and trying to incorporate that into your own writing the stuff you produce will be so, so much better.

that's about all I have time for. again, you're clearly a solid writer, and from this review I think you're at the point where you can start to deviate from the "formula" which dominates user reviews on all amateur review sites. excellent work and looking forward to seeing what you have in store in the future :]

theNateman
February 29th 2016


3159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks so much! I'll definitely try that in the future

TheGreatQ
February 29th 2016


2543 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

s/t is a better album

dmp3131
February 29th 2016


1213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album. Although it has a lot of songs from Vessel they are different enough. Forest, Kitchen Sink, Lovely, and Be Concerned are jams.

theNateman
March 14th 2016


3159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think I prefer the version of lovely found here to the rerecorded version

Pangea
March 14th 2016


2712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah the version on here is a lot better

DecadentGuy
October 5th 2016


4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album shocked me. It came out of nowhere and I really enjoyed it for several listen-throughs

TVC15
June 11th 2017


8956 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Huh this finally got a review

Digging: Pan Sonic - Kesto (234:48:4)



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