Twenty one pilots is on the run and go. After completing their Quiet is Violent world tour, which spanned 25 different North American cities and three other countries, the ‘schizoid pop’ duo wasted no time hitting the studio upon their return.
Just two years after their breakout album Vessel, the Columbus, Ohio natives are set to release their fourth overall album Blurryface on May 19 of this year, and will embark on yet another world tour after making stops at summer music festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.
Though they are not a household name quite yet, the band’s popularity has skyrocketed since “Vessel’s” debut in early 2013. You may have seen them on TV during the MTV Movie Awards last year, or their most recent tour stop at House of Blues Orlando in September 2014. In many ways, they’re hard to miss. During performances, lead singer Tyler Joseph often dons a skeleton-printed jumpsuit and a ski mask to evoke the band’s mysterious vibe, and drummer Josh Dun is often seen pounding the kit with his shirt off.
Despite their external eccentricities, however, the band’s overall message is what resonates the most with their primarily high school to college age demographic. Overcoming depression, suicide, hopelessness and fear is often a common narrative in their music.
Their official website states the following:
“Don’t let the fear of unhappiness cripple your pursuit of finding what it is you believe. Since joy is found in belief, we all have to push through unhappiness to find joy.”
In general, twenty one pilots is reshaping what it means to be a band. Neither member promotes drinking, smoking, or drugs, and their songs are devoid of any kind of profane, demeaning language.
Instead, everything revolves around the contemplation of life and overcoming the pitfalls of the world around us. For instance, “Car Radio,” the song played at the aforementioned MTV Movie Awards, is a five minute soliloquy about Joseph’s car radio being stolen, and how the newfound silence forces him to overthink. “Oh my, too deep, please stop thinking, I liked it better when my car had sound,” he says in the second verse.
As far as their overall sound, it’s a bit indescribable. Some tracks feature the spunky melodies of ukulele and piano, while others infuse synth, rap and booming bass lines. Stylistically, the songs often end completely differently than they start, often beginning with dark, foreboding undertones that transform into catchy pop ballads midway through.
Christmas came early for loyal followers of the band, as two new songs off of “Blurryface,” “Fairly Local,” and “Tear In My Heart,” were recently released on iTunes and Spotify. In typical twenty one pilots fashion, the two songs sound nothing like each other.
During the eerie sounding “Fairly Local,” Joseph hints at the fact that his music will likely be understood only by a specific audience in the song’s bridge, stating: “Yo, this song will never be on the radio. Even if my clique were to pick and the people were to vote, it’s the few, the proud, and the emotional.” The song will likely make more sense when lined up against the other tracks on “Blurryface,” but it appears that the band is trying to retain its “local” roots while taking on a new identity of sound.
In the official music video for the song, a shadowy Tyler Joseph stands in a dark, icy hallway, while red-eyeliner-clad Josh Dun pounds away on a set of snow-covered drums. The video takes place almost entirely in the dark until the last verse is sung and a glowing microphone appears. “I know who I truly am, I truly do have chance. Tomorrow I’ll switch the beat, to avoid yesterday’s dance.”
The second “Blurryface” staple, “Tear In My Heart,” dabbles in the region of romance; which is quite the anomaly for twenty one pilots. The song is a tribute to Joseph’s wife, Jenna and emphasizes the significance of letting a special someone “tear in” to your heavily guarded heart.
Unlike “Fairly Local,” the song features an upbeat, ragtime-sounding piano riff that gains momentum until the very end. Like always, the lyrics convey an underlying message of hope and resilience, stating that “Sometimes you’ve got to bleed to know-oh-oh, that you’re alive and have a soul.”
Only time will tell what “Blurryface” has in store, but based on what’s been released thus far, it looks destined for another successful reception among loyal fans and first-time listeners.
Griffin Guinta can be reached at Griffin.Guinta@theminaretonline.com.