by: Julia Vaccarella ’20 A&E Staff
On Oct. 5, Twenty One Pilots released Trench, the duo’s first album in three years. The band, featuring Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph, rose to popularity back in 2015 with hits such as “Stressed Out” and “Ride.” The new record, however, was recorded with little publicity over a year-long period and included a strategic debut of several singles before the October release.
Trench builds upon many of the themes featured in the duo’s previous release, Blurryface, and has been characterized as a concept album thereafter. Much of the band’s music incorporates messages about depression and anxiety; fans have expressed sentiments of satisfaction with the element of relatability that Twenty One Pilots so blatantly radiates. The pair has been relatively vocal about inspiration for the album and also took part in an interview with Beats 1 that is featured on Apple Music. In the interview, Joseph explains some of the many themes that come to light in Trench, from isolation, to faith, and spirituality.
The album builds upon the perpetual notion of a “trench,” as identified and said by Joseph himself. Joseph and Dun have explained that the album itself is reflective of a fictional city known as Dema. This concept alludes back to the core of what Twenty One Pilots is known for, and implies an escape from reality. The album also incorporates the difficulty of being in two places at once, a noteworthy theme when considering the growing popularity that the band has dealt with in the past several years. It also factors in the pressure that Twenty One Pilots faced in releasing a follow-up album after the mainstream success of Blurryface back in 2015.
Another significant aspect of the Twenty One Pilots brand that is noticeably apparent on Trench is the versatility of different musical genres that comprise the album. Twenty One Pilots is most directly characterized as an alternative band. However, it has been argued that Joseph and Dun also cross the lines into the rock genre in unconventional ways. Additionally, many of their songs also feature lyrics that incorporate rap.
This is something that has been noticed by fans and critics alike. Brad Heaton of Billboard writes in his review of the album, “Trench revels in the confounding genre-blurring and cavernous conceptualism that has defined Twenty One Pilots over their nearly decade-long existence. If anything, it’s weirder than its predecessor, and even more self-assured in its pursuit of a cohesive concept, which again centers on Joseph’s inner-turmoil.” One of the songs on the album, “Morph,” is a prototypical example of the band’s ability to slip between different musical genres. This song, which highlights the theme of what life will be like after death, is unlike any other Twenty One Pilots’ song.
It is unknown what Twenty One Pilots will come up with for their next album. Most likely, though, the duo will continue to reach the core of its strongest fanbase and meet its listeners with more unexpected surprises. Joseph and Dun kicked off their Bandito tour Oct. 16.