You can only hang on to your Ferris wheel for so long before adulthood comes for you. For proof, look no further than the successful pop-rock duo Twenty One Pilots.
Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun’s greatest success, “Stressed Out” of 2015, was wishing they could go back to childhood and live a happy existence without the constraints of adulthood. On a slow rhythm tinged with reggae, between rap lines sometimes stung like “I was told that when I get old, all my fears will diminish / But now I’m not sure of myself and I care what people think, ”sang Joseph. desire to be sung to sleep by his mother, and to be greeted instead by the jarring demand: “Wake up, you must earn money!” In the video, he and Dun – that partnership’s drummer and Silent Bob – sipped Capri Suns, hung out at their parents’ house, and crisscrossed the streets of their native Columbus on oversized tricycles. The desire for the carefree innocence of youth was not invented by the generation of the Twenty One Pilots, but the frankness with which they aspire these days in the face of factors such as student debt – and the surge of popularity. which made the “stressed” disappear. average of # 2 a year after its release – turned it into natural avatars for millennium anxiety. It also made them an easy target for anyone looking to complain about kids these days and their avocado or whatever toast – not to mention the quirky hybrid sound of those millennial posters owed so much to the eclectic Gen-Xs. like Beck, Sublime and the Beastie. Boys. Half a decade later, they also started cribbing baby boomers.
We’ve all grown a lot since the mid-2010s, including Twenty One Pilots. Most notably, last year, just before COVID closed the world, Joseph and his wife Jenna welcomed a baby girl. So it is perhaps not so surprising that the new album of his group is sometimes totally rock. The first song on Chipped and glazed – short for “reduced and isolated”, a nod to the genesis of the album in Joseph’s basement studio during his forties – is “Good Day”, a casual pianist-rocker in the vein of Paul McCartney and ELO. Another keyboard groove on “Mulberry Street” evokes “Benny And The Jets” by Elton John. With “Never Take It”, they kind of crossed “Sympathy For The Devil” with “Get What You Give” from the new radicals. The unique sonic DNA that made Twenty One Pilots one of the most popular and influential rock bands of the 2010s is still noticeable: a kitchen sink quality that has resulted in songs like “Ode To Sleep.” That Frankenstein had brought together tracks from Queen-via-My Chemical Romance arena rock, big-tent EDM, and nerdcore rap. But over time – as evidenced by “Stressed Out” and the subsequent hits “Ride” and “Heathens”, which made Twenty One Pilots the first group since the Beatles to land two songs in the top five of the Hot 100 – they figured out how to squeeze all these influences into something simpler.
They maintained this refinement process over 2018 Trench, often leaning on the harsher, hipster sides of their sound: heavy bass fueled rock on “Jumpsuit”, futuristic blown rap on “Levitate”, 80s pop with a bubbly soul on “My Blood” . With Chipped and glazed, Joseph often comes back the other way, shamelessly leaving himself cheesy as parents often do. (I speak from experience.) That extends to the downright chipper attitude he brings to new songs. If the Twenty One Pilots fan base once functioned as a sort of secular youth group for struggling children, on Chipped and glazed, the adult jumps. Not that the album is all the sun and the roses; the aforementioned “Good Day” is about the denial he imagines would set in if his family passed away, while the closing song “Redecorate” was inspired by a friend whose son has passed away. Pessimism course by “Choker”; “No Chances” recalls the dark and complex mythology of Trench; and “Saturday” is all about the disorientation of life during the lockdown. Yet Joseph intentionally pushed aside the mood of doom that defined the pandemic, so most of these songs ring happier than Twenty One Pilots ever seemed.
“Bounce Man” is practically a commercial song, with the guy who once wanted his mother’s hug on the record now referring to his “old lady” and telling a runaway friend to come home for another song like the old days. “Formidable” describes the friendship between Joseph and Dun – a brotherhood that has always been at the heart of the group – as an epic love story. An interaction with Joseph’s real brother, who inspired the debut single “Shy Away”, one of the most beautiful songs this band has ever released, which could easily be mistaken for the bubbling rock synth of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. These songs are all proof that a simple and stable Twenty One Pilots can be good. On the other hand, there’s “Saturday,” the group’s first collaboration with Adele / Pink / Kelly Clarkson producer Greg Kurstin, which is bad. “Saturday” may be rooted in pandemic disorientation, but everything about the song is extremely hokey, including what appears to be a phone call in which Joseph tells his wife he wants to watch. Friends with her. It is the closest to this group which looks like LMFAO.
It should be noted that while Twenty One Pilots moved to the middle, the middle moved to Twenty One Pilots. They have played a role in changing the sound of modern rock radio. Artists of Chainsmokers at AJR have sometimes torn their sound. They may or may not have directly influenced the currently running cocktail of hip-hop and pop-punk, but they certainly foreshadowed it. But while Joseph once seemed to have a flute-like influence when it comes to youth culture, lately his fan base hasn’t been so unanimous. Last year he was at the center of a social media crisis when a segment of his fans urged him to post “Black Lives Matter” and he casually declined, arguing he wanted to use his bandwidth. to fight suicide and depression instead. (He finally tweeted “Black Lives Matter” in March, just before his band announced their new album.) On less important matters, “Saturday” sparked an uproar among some longtime fans, who decrying the song on TikTok. Several even described it’s like “department store musicPresenting it as betrayal from a group they grew up loving.
But it’s not like Twenty One Pilots is about to lose its following. “Shy Away” had an unusually strong start on alternative radio and quickly turned to No. 1, where he remained for over a month. Last year’s 40s single, “Level Of Concern,” was their biggest hit since their breakthrough in 2016, peaking at No. 23 on the Hot 100. A few clunkers aside, Chipped and glazed maintains the flair for the poppy quirky rock music that made the band a star in the first place. If they’ve left their disruptive intrusion phase and settled into musical adulthood, it’s likely that a good chunk of their fan base will grow with them. Soon they will all be holding on to their children’s youth rather than wishing they could return to theirs.