By: Taylor McKenna
American alternative duo Twenty One Pilots consists of Tyler Joseph (vocals, ukulele, piano) and Josh Dun (drums). The band produces what they call “piano-driven schizoid pop,” and offer an uplifting vibe to how Joseph battles with mental illness through the varying tempos, which always portrays their feelings more effectively.
Joseph named the band Twenty One Pilots after studying playwright Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, while in theatre class. The main character has to choose between sending out faulty airplane parts, which would make the company more money but possibly harm people, or to keep the parts and lose the money. He ends up sending out the parts, resulting in the death of twenty one pilots.
Joseph believes humanity faces moral crossroads without knowing what the outcomes will be, which is why he named the band after the twenty one pilots. He “wants to make people think.” That ambition clearly follows within the song lyrics. The beat and lyrics are upbeat even while offering a message about difficult times in life.
Their first album, Twenty One Pilots, delivers a relatable sound to listeners as Joseph’s words express the feelings of experiencing emotional trouble. Songs such as “Addict with a Pen,” “Oh Ms Believer,” and “Before You Start Your Day” contribute to the gloomy emotions. The lyrics to “Addict with a Pen” resonate with “Hello/We haven’t talked in quite some time/I know/I haven’t been the best/of sons,” and “As a walking denial/my trial was filed as a crazy/suicidal head case,” which show clear signs of Joseph’s mental issues and how his family deals with him.
Their second album, Regional at Best, continues this pattern while bringing new music into the mix. Some songs from this album were carried over into their next, such as “Ode to Sleep” or “Car Radio.”
Vessel, the duo’s third album, delivers the same uplifting sound through a more upbeat, electronic sound, like in “Migraine,” which includes the lyrics: “Sometimes to stay alive you gotta kill your mind,” meaning that in order to keep going, somebody battling illness must defeat demons within their own mind.
Their most popular song on this album, “Car Radio,” serves as a perfect example of trying to “make people think,” while also giving listeners who are going through hard times a way to think differently about it. “I have these thoughts/So often I ought/To replace that slot with what I once bought/‘Cause somebody stole my car radio/And now I just sit in silence.”
Twenty One Pilots’ fourth album, Blurryface was released on May 18. The duo previously released some of its singles, “Fairly Local,” “Tear in my Heart,” “Stressed Out,” “Lane Boy,” and “Ride” that were all accompanied by music videos with the exception of “Lane Boy.”
The songs stray away from their normal sound to heavy rap, but still are just as wonderful. “Fairly Local” is a heavier rap with some recording alterations to Joseph’s voice during the bridge, while “Tear in my Heart” sounds more like an upbeat pop song. “Stressed Out” is a mix of rap and singing, “Lane Boy” sounds like a reggae/dubstep mix, and “Ride” mixes these all together.
Blurryface, already promising to be lively with the release of those five singles, was clearly shown, as the emotionally-charged album climbed the iTunes charts to number one, as well deserved.
Listeners never know what to expect when hearing a song by Twenty One Pilots for the first time, which is one of the reasons they are so much fun to listen to. They allow their fan base (the Skeleton Clique) to expand as they grow musically.
The Clique is one of the most inviting fan bases out there, reaching out to each other online and providing friendly people to interact with about the music and the guys.
Many Tumblr and Twitter accounts are dedicated to supporting Twenty One Pilots, because the duo creates a sense of home through their lyrics and the way they interact with fans.
Their fans are incorporated into music videos for songs such as “Car Radio,” “Ode to Sleep,” and their cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. The duo provide fans with feelings of involvement and importance, which they may need, as many of their fans deal with the same emotional turmoil the two turn to in music.
On May 21, Joseph tweeted a thank you to fans, “I’ve been told the album is still at the top and that isn’t because of a hit, it’s because you all believe in something in its entirety.”
He continued this inclusion of them on May 27 when he tweeted, “You guys did it,” while showing a link to Blurryface, which was still being number one.
Loving Twenty One Pilots provides a safety net for some of those who have trouble loving themselves, which is why the duo deserves significant thanks and recognition.
The tour for the Blurryface album begins on Sept. 8, 2015 in Washington D.C. They are coming to Boston on Sept. 12 at the Blue Hills Bank Pavillion.
Twenty One Pilots deserve five out of five stars for their uplifting tone, artistic integrity and for shedding some light into my life. Thank you. |-/