Twenty One Pilots’ sophomore album Blurryface is a work of art, the album combines elements of every genre imaginable, from hip-hop to pop to rock to post-hardcore and they combine these elements with ease and it creates an incredible listening experience with a song for every mood. The album tells the story of Blurryface, a character that is based off vocalist Tyler’s darker self, and throughout the album BLurryface presents himself in the form of verses where the vocals are pitched up or down out of the vocal range of Tyler.
The album opens with Heavydirtysoul which is an upbeat song that shows off drummer Josh’s incredible drumming ability and Tyler’s rapping ability and clean vocals shine with some incredible high notes. The piano throughout the song is a complimentary instrument to highlight the chorus. The bass is rich and helps to add to the heavier aspect of the song. It also has a dark feel which could have been deliberate point to show that the album is going to be a lot darker from the get go in comparison with their debut Vessel.
Stressed Out is the first song where Blurryface makes his first appearance, and it’s a nostalgic song with songs talking about the past. The chorus is catchy and easy to sing along to. The bass in the song is incredibly deep and you can feel the bass in the core of your being, if your headphones let you that is. The use of synths and pads throughout the songs make the chorus and important aspects of the song stand out and add texture to the song. The production of the track is also incredible using different techniques to build the songs and drop. The Blurryface verse ends the song and the lead synth playing over makes the verse makes it seem really eerie and menacing which works for what Blurryface tries to represent which is how Tyler wants to go back in time to where things like money were not important and that he wishes to be young again.
Ride is a happier sounding sound driven with drums and bass and a more reggae style guitar style, as does the vocal melody. The song has incredibly complex fast rap that is executed with ease. The drums sound incredible throughout the song, the bass drum sounds big and the snare drum is punchy and changes throughout the song thanks to the fantastic production of the song, it changes as the song evolves and it is there to help emphasis the aspects of the vocal that need to be emphasised.
Fairly Local is a dark song and is the first single the band released off the album. It’s heavily forced with some heavy electronics, some crunchy synths and an electric violin style synth. The production of the drums is impeccable. The low tom sounds absolutely phenomenal, it’s bassy yet clear as day light, the drums in the song show a sign of a hip hop influences. The percussion and snare throughout really come through as a more rap style song as the small sounding, high pitched style they use throughout the song is regularly used in hip hop and rap. Blurryface has a huge verse in this song and the pitch shift is incredible, you would never guess that it was Tyler singing. He raps about how the songs won’t make radio play and that even with the help of the large Twenty One Pilots fan base, they won’t make the radio waves. The use of a choir throughout the songs helps make the song darker and shows the bands willingness to combine to completely different genres to produce a different, dark listening experience.
Tear in My Heart is a happier song, more like that of the bands previous album. The chorus is catchy and easy to sing along to and has a ridiculously catchy bridge that will make you want to jump and dance. The vocals are well sung and Tyler knows how to make a song his own with his unique singing style, which isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, but really suits the song and makes it’s a bit more personal. The song is the second single off the album and is a love song about his wife. The drums and bass really help to build the song and make it more upbeat and fun, with an electronic break the song is one that makes you jump, sing and puts you in a great mood especially with the uplifting, silly lyrics of the second verse.
Lane Boy is a dance song that shows off Tyler’s rapping ability and Josh’s incredible drumming. The upbeat beat drums are incredibly complex and sounds incredible with the bass and flow of Tyler’s fast rapping. The electronic breakdown gives Josh an incredible opportunity to show of how complex he can drum with some impressive cymbal work and quick drum fills where he seems to hit everything on his drum kit in the space of a second. The bass in the song is very groovy and the sort of bass line that a funk band or hip hop artist. The lead synth is also very club like and is comes through the song and helps to separate the verse to the chorus. Blurryface also shows his face briefly during one the electronic and he emphasises the lyrics “Will they be a live tomorrow” which could indicate Tyler’s fear of death or it could be just used to make the drop more dramatic.
The Judge is a song which brings Tyler’s famous Ukulele back. It’s very rare you hear a Ukulele sound this good, that stands out over the hard hitting drums and piano which usually drown out the soft sound of the Ukulele. The chorus shows off Tyler’s ability to hit those high notes with ease, especially after singing such a low note just a moment before. The upbeat, yet dark sounding song is very catchy with a friendly melody that you would be singing easily by the end. The drums compliment the song and help to push emphasise the lyrics. Josh loves to show off his ability to play various styles throughout one song, as he does in this song have some hard hitting breakdown style songs, while having some rock style drums and hip hop.
Doubt is a dark song with some drastic post production work done on Tyler’s Voice. The lyrics are catchy and will have you singing along. It’s very rap influenced, the drums and instrumentation have clear influence from the bands love for rap. The lead synth works very well with the vocal style synth they use to add some depth to the song and during musical interludes to dance too. The bass in the song is one that would make you move your feet. The overall feel of the songs is dark and sad and it’s the sort of thing you would hear on an underground rap radio station, but produced on the same level as some the biggest records of the year by some of the best producers of our day and age. The song is very emotional lyrically and most likely relatable to those in love and having doubts about their partners faith.
Polarize is an upbeat song with a very catchy chorus that you will be singing along with quickly. The drums change rapidly throughout the song showing off Josh’s ability to write complex beats and simple ones that help to build the mood of the song. The bass in the song really helps the song build up and drop and it works very well to produce some well executed build ups. The bass is very clear to hear and is very well produced, the band have clearly wanted to experiment more with using the bass in this album.
We Don’t Believe What’s On TV is a more punky song. The fast tempo drums really make it an easy to dance along too. Although its ukelele-driven, it still seems more pop punky then anything else. The bass in this song is a bit gritty and aggressive which helps with that idea of punk. The vocal bridge seems like very modern punk with a short “yeah yeah yeah” which helps build a drop that will make people dance easily. They also have a trumpet which really helps build the song up for the regular drops. The vocals are a bit heavy with a few bits that are shouted which is nice to see as Tyler is able to portray a lot of emotion in his voice when he shouts. He also whispers at the end of the song and as per usual sings incredibly well with great vocal hooks and with a super easy voice to listen to. A short upbeat song that brings back the bands much loved ukelele and one that shows the band don’t need electronics to creat dance songs.
Message Man is an easy song to listen too. The chorus melody is incredibly catchy, it flows like water. The lyrics are superbly well constructed and flow superbly well, Tyler is a wonder with words, creating flowing melodies and rhyming. The bass will get feet moving and piano will get people swaying, it’s a funky song with clear influences from funk, reggae and hip-hop. They combine the aspects of all these genres to creat a blissful, elegant listening experience that is easy to listen to and can take you away reality. The ambient feel of the song as it develops makes the vocals stand out in the mix, while the instrumentation can easily distract you from the vocals and it’s an impressive piece of production work that you can easily focus on either aspect of the song.
Hometown is a chilled song, it opens with vocals and a piano which just builds up to the verse. The vocals show off the high end Tyler’s vocal range and the harmonies have a long echo on them which creates a very chilled, electronic style feel. The song is heavily drum focused, although the drums may not be Josh’s most complex or fascinating work, they suit the chill dance song superbly. The chorus isn’t the catchiest on the album and it’s probably the weakest song on the album. However, it is an incredibly relaxed song, while simultaneously being a great song. You could listen to it in a club while out with friends or sat in your room alone just chilling out and to compose a song which has the two moods is an incredible feat.
Not Today is a happy song and as Tyler says in the song “it’s a contradiction because of how happy it sounds, but the lyrics are so down”. It’s an upbeat, fun song and is the penultimate song on the album. It combines lots of elements from the rest of the album, like the trumpet, upbeat drums, electronic bass, synths, rapping, clean vocals and catchy vocal hooks. The song is well composed and all the different elements really work together. The pad, is heavenly sounding, and helps add some texture and atmosphere to the song. The production on the drums is mind blowing, they sound incredible and the way they dance around headphones is fun and it reflects in the up beat, yet sad song.
Closing track Goner is an older song the band have bought back. They extended it, adding in some verses about our favourite character Blurryface. The song starts very slow and dark with an ambient dark feel to it. Tyler sounds distressed during the song which works well to reflect the mood of the song. It seems like he is singing about how even though he’s exhausted from the harassment of Blurryface, he’s realised can beat him and its an uplifting song, hard hitting song. The song takes aspects from the heavier side of music with some screams involved toward the end of the song, which is unexpected and shows off the pain and feeling of the song while also showing how he has overcome Blurryface. The song is well composed and is an incredible way to the end album.
Blurryface is gone but Twenty One Pilots are here to stay and they are only going to keep growing their fan base before they take over the world. The album is a piece of art, combining multiple genres, writing moving songs, writing fun songs and demonstrating they are a force to be reckoned with. Keep an eye out for the rising stars that are Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun.