Twenty One Pilots
Scaled and Icy


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler W. CONTRIBUTOR (53 Reviews)
May 23rd, 2021 | 104 replies


Release Date: 05/21/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Twenty One Pilots: The Happy Era

It comes as no shock that Twenty One Pilots’ latest release is yet another stylistic change. Since their debut self-titled record, the duo has gone through a multitude of changes, for better or for worse, maneuvering between rock, pop, and some variation of screamo-ballad combo. However, the shock factor here resides in how exactly they changed their style. With their past works, Twenty One Pilots always went for the “happy sound, depressive lyric” approach to their music, heavily exemplified through records like Vessel and Blurryface. This time around, the happy sound remains but the lyrics almost feel void of depressive themes, rather focusing on optimism. Much like their previous releases, Scaled and Icy’s stylistic switch brings a fresh breath of life for the group’s discography, both for better and for worse.

With this new sound, Scaled and Icy reinvigorates their previous pop style found throughout Vessel by delving deeper into the happy aesthetic while introducing a more synth-pop influence to the mix. Capitalizing on the composition of standalone single “Level of Concern,” the duo crafts an abundance of infectious grooves, catchy melodies, and classic synth leads that have an almost vintage tinge to them. Tracks like “Saturday” and “Choker” embrace this exuberant pop style with heavy reliance on electronic intervention to craft soundscapes full of vibrant synths and groovy beats. Complementarily, “Shy Away” and “Never Take It” establish themselves in an upbeat alternative way, prioritizing the usage of deep basslines and driving drum grooves, creating this happy sounding alternative/indie rock vibe that fits within the record. Taking the previous piano-centric jams of their debut and Vessels, “Good Day” and “Mulberry Street” take a different approach by including additional guitar leads, grooving basslines, and a more electronically influenced style to innovate the older compositional techniques with the duo’s newer stylistic approach. However, despite this general trend towards the happier end of the musical spectrum, a bit of Twenty One Pilots’ darker atmosphere remains subtly within the album. “The Outside” is heavily characterized by a darker, mysterious synth with an off-key guitar lead that creates a unique contrast from the rest of the records happier, optimistic display. Similarly, “No Chances” adorns itself with deep bass and Tyler Joseph’s signature depressive-sounding rapping that pushes itself to its darker roots, akin to “Pet Cheetah” from Trench and “heavydirtysoul” from Blurryface.

Although the happier sound is somewhat different in style from previous efforts, the real change lies in the themes within the lyricism. Moving beyond the depressive, pessimistic lyrics of past records, Scaled and Icy almost feels like a full 180 to more optimistic and joyous lyrical themes. Though this signals a better headspace for the context of the record, much of what made Twenty One Pilots’ enjoyable has been somewhat sacrificed to an extent. A lot of the album relies too much on basic lyrical composition and rather surface-level themes that don’t require a significant amount of thought to understand. Case in point: the chorus/hook of “Saturday.” Despite its catchiness, the chorus itself seems mundane and tedious in composition because it doesn’t really go anywhere and doesn’t add to the overall theme of the record aside from a fun, mindless jam. This kind of lyricism is scattered amongst Scaled and Icy with verses like ”Shoot my life in shoot-em-up style/Her favorite movies, lowkey that throw off the maturity aspect of their lyricism. Nonetheless, Tyler Joseph’s lyricism does shine through these faults, redeeming itself in the bridge of “Choker” with the metaphor of the splinter and the almost begging chorus of “Redecorate.” However, this switch to happier lyrics, although a fresh thematic breath, fails to complement the new style as it finds itself in basic lyrical tropes and tedious phrasing.

This stylistic change won’t appeal to everyone, that’s a given. Each album has attracted new fans and pushed away others, and Scaled and Icy is no different. As for me, Twenty One Pilots’ newest effort has just enough to digest that makes it interesting and a unique addition to their discography. Despite the lacking lyricism and the occasional repetitive nature of the tracks throughout the record, Scaled and Icy shows the duo embracing yet another style by showing off their versatility and dynamic approach to composition, crafting interesting, catchy, and enjoyable tracks. Is it their best? No, but it’s the best version of Twenty One Pilots in this new era and style.



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user ratings (146)
2.9
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2021


2497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been jamming this the past couple of days, and I've been really enjoying it. Not my favorite from them, but it's still a fun jam nonetheless!

I know I'm probably in the minority of those who actually enjoy this record, but I will completely embrace it. No Chances, Formidable, The Outside, and Shy Away are all great tracks here

ExtinguishingTheSun
May 23rd 2021


359 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Solid review. I like the album well enough but need to listen more. It's no Trench, that's for sure. The name is 'Vessel' btw

Purpose
May 23rd 2021


47 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

It's growing on me, but not my favorite TOP album. However, it is worth mentioning that within TOP lore, this album is essentially a manufactured product designed to sound happy and vapid intentionally by the villains. I'm no TOP lore wizard, but there's a lot going on beneath the surface it seems. Anyway. We'll see if it grows

Tundra
May 23rd 2021


6185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album seems to be quite polarizing

Sowing
Moderator
May 23rd 2021


38456 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I had no idea this was out. Great review.



I like happy Twenty One Pilots, and Blurryface is still my favorite record of theirs. Is this closer to that than their last (which I didn't like nearly as much)?

Digging: Darkside - Spiral

Tundra
May 23rd 2021


6185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Trench is was really dull to me haha, this one is definitely more lively etc

Sowing
Moderator
May 23rd 2021


38456 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I just spun the album. It started out really strong and then lost its edge for me. Prob a lite 3.5 on first listen, but I'm going to give it one more go before rating. The "happier vibes" described in the review are pretty accurate and I don't hate it.

StickFeit
May 23rd 2021


1676 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Never liked anything by this band. But I like the artwork on this one, so might try it.



Edit: apparently I liked the last one when it came out.

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2021


2497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“ I'm no TOP lore wizard, but there's a lot going on beneath the surface it seems”

I mean, you can always put a meaning on something in hindsight, but as a whole, there just lacked that intentionality in the lyrics that I’ve felt for other albums from them. Who knows, maybe the next release will make me look back and see the lyrical intentions here, but as a stand-alone, it doesn’t do much

Appreciate the read everyone! And yeah, Sowing you aren’t the only one because I feel like a lot of people didn’t even realize this was coming out... man have they lost steam over the years since Blurryface

SteakByrnes
May 23rd 2021


24266 Comments


Nice review man! I'll stay away from this tho lol

Digging: Origami Button - No Parking

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2021


2497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, definitely advise you to stay away, probably wouldn’t enjoy at all lol

StickFeit
May 23rd 2021


1676 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Against all odds, I actually enjoyed this today

Cormano
May 23rd 2021


2800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

it's fascinating how words such as emotion, darkness, depression and the lot get dropped every single time when discussing this band

Cormano
May 23rd 2021


2800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

also what in the hell is screamo-ballad combo?

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2021


2497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it was just me making a stupid description of songs like Car Radio and Goner and those types of tracks

Fathm
May 23rd 2021


15 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't care about the lore. It's nice to have i guess, but it can't be used as an excuse to make a bad album. Fortunately though, this is still pretty decent. Better than RAB but worse than all of their other albums. Saturday is awful but Never Take It, Shy Away, Choker, No Chances and Redecorate are really great

Feather
May 23rd 2021


7090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Checked this out this morning and was pleasantly surprised. Thought I had completely grown out of these guys. Was barely able to get through Trench when it dropped

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2021


2497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

awww, Saturday is a fun jam tho :[

but yeah, I was honestly surprised that I still enjoyed this too Feather... if they went for another Trench I probably would've been bored with it, but I appreciate the stylistic change here

Feather
May 23rd 2021


7090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I thought Saturday was a jam too! Honestly the whole thing is. Formidable keeps standing out for me during my couple album listens.

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2021


2497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Formidable is fantastic, that and No Chances are easily my favorites on here



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