Review Summary: At least the album cover is really cool.
I don’t hate Twenty One Pilots. They might be bordering on being talentless Nazis, in regards to their apparent chokehold on the pop music industry, but such is life. Either way, I do not hate them, despite what one may come to believe, because a review this edgy definitely doesn't contain valid opinions. When you look at my rating, it would be easy to dismiss this review as being written by some ignorant hater with shıt taste in music, when in reality, I’m an open mind person who’s relatively indifferent on the band, with shıt taste in music. Or at least, that’s you’re gonna try and tell me.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some of their songs in the past, and I feel like Vessel and their self titled, are perfectly competent albums. And their song “Holding On To You” is superb.
That being said, this album blew my expectations out of the water, in that I genuinely expected this album to be alright, when in reality, it’s extremely far from it. Upon hearing the first single, “Jumpsuit” I was really excited. It is an excellent song in almost every way, with a fantastic, grungy bass line, good drumming, and a wonderfully emotional and moving vocal performance. And the great instrumentation, combined with the pretty good lyrics makes for the best song on the album by a longshot, and potentially one of the best songs of 2018.
But sadly, this was the first single for the album, which concerned me. It either meant that this was that the best song on the album, and everything was about to go to shlt, or that it was simply one of the better ones, and wasn't the best that the album had to offer. Unfortunately, the first of these scenarios is the one that inevitably occurred.
And, to make matters worse, Jumpsuit was also the album’s first track, and given the quality of the rest of the album, this decision was likely for the better, because after the first track, you likely won’t be able to endure much more of the album, unless you’re in a deep state of denial, and want desperately for this album to be even half decent. And it’s a shame that the music video is so awful, with its amature level directing, and disgusting camerawork.
Immediately after Jumpsuit, is a drop in quality so severe, that even the most tolerant of listeners will still be left confused, scared, and wondering if this is really the band that has over 14 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Track two of the album is called “Levitate” and it’s at this point in the album, (about three minutes and fifty nine seconds) that Trench takes a turn for the worse. Levitate is so mediocre that it physically hurts me. The lyrics are perfectly serviceable, and considerably better than some of the other tracks on this album, but everything else so so bland and uninspired, that the only memorable aspect of the song is the well done transition before the first track and this. And the way that they sampled some of the audio from Jumpsuit. Which would have been cool, if it wasn't so horribly out of sync with the vocals and that that it legitimately felt like someone opened up the track in Garageband, and just pasted the sample into the timeline at random intervals as the song played, and just hoped for the best. And on the actual vocals on this track, Tyler Joseph sounds more bored than anything else.
This kind of quality continues for much of the album. This whole album could probably be best described as “bored.” It feels like little to no passion, love, or care, went into the making of any of these songs. Every song sounds the same, but instead of making the album more cohesive and improving the pacing, it just makes the whole album sound like one enormous song. After Levitate, the lyricism also falls apart, as it goes from being kinda alright, to being on par with bands like Nickelback, in terms of depth, complexity, and effort.
But of course, they do the only logical thing that can be done, in the event of writing an album’s worth of lyrics that don’t make any logical sense: They go ahead and pretend it’s a concept album of sorts, so when the lyrics are to senseless and mindless to actually mean something, it’s your fault not understanding it, because you don’t know the album’s story. Bands take this route often, and sometimes it ends up working out alright, but in this case, it certainly did not. Hell, even Shinedown’s new album did this kind of shıt, and the end result was a vastly superior album, with strikingly similar aesthetics for their album covers.
You can easily tell the difference between a real concept album, and a fake concept album. Yes! Even all of you can do this one simple trick, that charlatans everywhere hate! What is this simple trick⁇ The answer may surprise you!
Step one: Listen to the the album, and completely disregard whatever knowledge you had prior.
Step two: Was it a concept album? Did it tell any sort of cohesive narrative? Was any sort of concept, main idea or theme introduced, referenced and built upon as the album played out?
If you answered “𝘺𝘦𝘴” to any of these questions, than congratulations! You just listened to an album that wasn’t Trench!
But if you answered “𝘯𝘰” to two or more of these, than there’s a very good chance that you just listened to a normal album, or perhaps a fake concept album, not unlike “The Stage” By Avenged Sevenfold, or “ATTENTION ATTENTION” By Shinedown, or god forbid, “Trench” by Twenty Øne Pilots. (Stylized like this because it looks cool or something.) Albums like this can be pretty good, but “Trench” is not one of them.
It’s also important to note, that if you listen to a concept album, and cannot tell that it is one, than it almost certainly isn’t.
Trench’s main downfall, aside from the the borderline false advertising, the the poorness of the production, instrumentation, and it’s overall sound. As previously stated, the vocals and overall tone of the album is basically the equivalent of going to a family reunion, except it’s for your dad’s side of the family, even though your parents got a divorce five years earlier and Mom got custody of you; you still have to go to the reunion. And on top that, everybody on your dad’s side is essentially just an overweight redneck, that try their damndest to be entertaining, but eventually they succumb to the inherent boredness of most family reunions, which is only exemplified by the fact that this particular reunion happens to be in an old warehouse in Iowa. So in other words: Bored, uncomfortable, and kinda awkward. The highlight was the average fried chicken that we all had at the beginning of the event, but it was all gone after about four minutes anyways. And all we're left with is the musical equivalent of the Frommelt family reunion.
The instrumentation isn't a lot better, with the production putting a lot of emphasis on Tyler’s voice, which is hardly a highlight of the album. But then again, the instrumentals are quite poor as well. The issues here stem from the drumming, which is slightly off putting, as you can never quite tell if it’s a human drumming, or just a decent drum machine. The beats are all static and lifeless, but their sound seems to react dynamically, to what other drums had just been hit. I never thought it could exist, but this album’s drumming falls squarely into the uncanny valley of percussion(?)
The culmination of all this results in an album that is much worse than I, or anyone else was expecting. So of course, a number of people seem to be in denial about how bad this album truly is. It’s a phenomenon that isn’t dissimilar to what happened when “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” came out. At first, it was met with glowing critical and commercial success, but as time passed, and people got over their initial hype, it became evident that that movie was quite bad. However, “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” had good music, which is more than what can be said for Trench, which happens to be almost exclusively music, (and a few very poorly made music videos.)
One of the most insulting things about this album is the the way in which TØP blatantly rip off a much (much) worse band than themselves, and somehow manage to create a product that is even worse the sh¡tshow that it’s derived from. Now, what in glob’s name could I possibly be talking about？Well, I refer to none other than the album “Feed the Machine” by Nickelback. At first the parallels wouldn't seem to be too horribly apparent, but the more that one thinks about it, the more it becomes clear that Trench is an inferior clone, of an already poor album.
And when I say that Trench is derivative of Feed The Machine, I don’t necessarily mean lyrically, or sonicaly. Moreso, the approach that that was presumably took in creating the album, and the the way in which it deceived the listener, up until its release.
The lead singles for these two albums, “Feed The Machine” and “Jumpsuit” respectively, are both departures from their parent band’s typical formula. They’re a bit heavier, a little more complex, and a step up lyrically. Both singles were released, and everybody who previously disliked the artist warmed up to this new song, and inevitably grew excited for their new album. These singles appeared to mark a reinvention of the bands, and made it seem as though their new album was going to be something new, exciting, or different. But come release day, the album is nothing more than another album, by the same average band. But unfortunately, Twenty One Pilots didn't even get that right, and somehow managed to craft one of the least enjoyable, least compelling, and most deceiving albums of 2018.
Will any album from a popular band/artist be able to beat it？ I honestly don't care, this crap's all subjective anyways. My money's on "no", but the sheer lack of self awareness and skill that artists manage to constantly squirt out is definitely keeping me on my toes.