Review Summary: “The Blurryface Effect”
To start this review off, I want to talk about two things, the first being My Chemical Romance.
Back in 2006, you couldn’t escape them. Whilst their 2004 LP Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge pushed the band further into the mainstream, it wasn’t until The Black Parade that the band was solidified as a powerhouse in the emo genre. Love them or hate them, their popularity was undeniable. Along with their popularity, they garnered a great deal of hate for a number of reasons. Some hated the band purely for their sound, some for the way the band dressed, but a considerable amount was down to one thing: the fans.
Their fanbase were largely teenagers, in the age 12-17 demographic. They were seen as edgy, volatile and immature, and often very annoying. The females in particular gained quite the reputation for listening to the band purely for their physical attraction to Gerard Way and crew, which led some to believe the band were just a boy band disguised as an alternative rock band.
What does this have to do with Twenty One Pilots? Blurryface.
Fast forward to 2015, indie pop band Twenty One Pilots release Blurryface. The album is a massive hit, especially in the alternative scene. ‘Stressed Out’ was unavoidable, much in the same vain as ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ was in 2006. Whilst Vessel was successful and garnered the band a considerable fanbase, it wasn’t until Blurryface that the bands music became truly inescapable. With Blurryface, TØP gained a huge following, many of which were/are the same demographic that MCR resonated with. Along with this, the band also received some hate, again, with a great deal of it being aimed at their fans, who like MCR’s fans, were young, impressionable and immature. The band gave their fanbase a name, “Skeleton Clique”, which only exacerbated the pack vibe their fans were already known for.
By all intents and purposes, the band had “sold out”. Every song on Blurryface received gold certification or higher, making history. The music video for “Stressed Out” has amassed 1.5 billion views on YouTube.
TRENCH is a different beast. After 3 years, the band have released what could be their greatest album yet. It’s dark, it’s grimy, and it has a much tighter sound and greater flow from start to finish. Whilst Blurryface sounded more like a collection of singles, TRENCH is gratifying to listen to from beginning to end. Starting off with the powerful and surprisingly heavy single “Jumpsuit”, the album sounds like on continuous movement, which is all the better with it being a concept album. “Levitate” features Tyler Joseph at his peak, his flow on the tracks verses are impeccable. The production on the track is stellar, with crisp beats in the background and atmospheric synths buzzing in the back. The album only has one or two missteps, the first being “Cut My Lip” which sounds like a Blurryface b-side, and a dull one at that, with the same faux reggae sound as the majority of the aforementioned LP. The closing track feels more like a halfway point than a closer, and pales in comparison to their previous albums closer “Goner”, with TRENCH ending not with a bang, but more with a whimper.
TRENCH is unlikely to reach the same commercial success as Blurryface, and that’s a good thing. Whilst the Clique will exaggerate their praise for the LP, for everyone else it’s a return to form for the band.