Rock duo Twenty One Pilots takes on new, clear direction with ‘Blurryface’

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Twenty One Pilots, the genre-bending indie pop band from Ohio, is a two-man show — but that’s never limited it. Singer Tyler Joseph delivers sharp, fast-paced rhymes at times, and at others showcases his powerful singing voice. Drummer Josh Dun pounds out rhythms like his life depends on it, but he also knows when to cool things down. And that’s the essence of the new direction Twenty One Pilots is taking on its new album, Blurryface: versatility, both sonically and lyrically.

Whereas its 2013 release, Vessel, was very single-minded in its thematic content, Blurryface explores new themes the band has never tackled before. We still hear Joseph grappling with his inner demons, but there’s also a love song, a song about the band’s struggle to maintain their creativity and moments of nostalgia for their childhood.

From the first single off its new album, Twenty One Pilots has been keeping us guessing. This first release, “Fairly Local,” is a dark, gritty concoction swirling with new, amped-up production. The album’s second single, “Tear in My Heart,” is a total 180 — a piano pop-rock love ballad with bold yet brilliant lyrics. In this song, Joseph describes his love for his recently wed wife, both in the little details (“You fell asleep in my car, I drove the whole time / But that’s OK, I’ll just avoid the holes so you sleep fine”) and in the rawest, fiercest fashion (“She’s the tear in my heart / She’s a carver / She’s a butcher with a smile.”)

Other tracks on the album continue to spin us in different directions. “Ride” has a reggae feel to it, “The Judge” is a jubilant ukulele-driven tune, and “Goner” is the soft album closer that escalates into intense, emotional, beautiful chaos.

The album is also incredibly relatable. “Stressed Out” echoes the thoughts and worries that cross the mind of every young adult. Joseph raps, “Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face / Saying, ‘Wake up, you need to make money.’ ” We all know the feeling — it’s hard to act like an adult when you still feel like a kid.

But who is Blurryface, anyway? Leading up to the album release, this name took on a mysterious persona, complete with its own cryptic Twitter account. In an interview with MTV, Joseph said that Blurryface “represents all the things that I as an individual, but also everyone around me, is insecure about.” This theme of insecurity resurfaces often throughout the 14-track album — but on the album closer, “Goner,” Joseph asserts, “I’ve got two faces. Blurry’s the one I’m not.” Twenty One Pilots want you to know that you can conquer your inner demons and that the band is here to help.


Contact Madeline Wells at [email protected].