Twenty-One Pilots Opens Up in New Album “Trench”

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Twenty-One Pilots Opens Up in New Album “Trench”

Drummer, Josh Dun and Singer, Tyler Joseph make up the band Twenty-One Pilots.

Drummer, Josh Dun and Singer, Tyler Joseph make up the band Twenty-One Pilots.

Drummer, Josh Dun and Singer, Tyler Joseph make up the band Twenty-One Pilots.

Drummer, Josh Dun and Singer, Tyler Joseph make up the band Twenty-One Pilots.

Claire Jackering, Staff Reporter

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After being gone for three years, Twenty-One Pilots released their fifth album, Trench. In the past, Twenty-One Pilots’ albums were more straightforward, but this new album tells an intense story in a series of events in the band’s alternate universe. However, the album does not tell one fluid story from beginning to end; there are multiple storylines that all have a similar idea. Trench also does not follow the same trend as the previous albums in how the albums end.

Before the new album was announced, Twenty-One Pilots created an online social experiment on called DEMA. In this experiment, the map has east in place of the north. The east is where the sun rises, which is when we wake. Therefore, the map is telling us to wake up, look up, and disconnect from technology to see everything going on in the world through our own eyes. But the main story of it is to document the life of a fictional character named Clancy. In the story, Clancy lives in a walled city called DEMA. The city is ruled by nine bishops who work to keep the inhabitants of Dema inside its walls. With the guidance of a group of individuals who call themselves “banditos,” Clancy eventually escapes.

The first song on the album is “Jumpsuit.” This song signals the end of the previous album, Blurry Face. In Blurry Face, the persona surrounding it was the frontman, Tyler Joseph’s, negative alter ego. Now, in Trench, we meet Clancy, who is the part of Joseph who fought to get better. Clancy’s jumpsuit covers his whole body, which has scars and other negative markings. The opening of the song states, “I can’t believe how much I hate pressures of a new place roll my way. Jumpsuit, jumpsuit cover me.” This line describes Joseph’s feeling towards being in the limelight and the pressure he puts on him. Joseph uses his jumpsuit to cover himself in order to hide from the pressure. “Jumpsuit” then flows directly into the next song.

“Levitate” and its beat comes from the previous song, while the general tone of the song changes to the freedom of fighting and winning over depression. The levitation sung about in the song is a representation of Joseph’s songwriting and how he uses it to levitate out of his thoughts and free his mind. A couple of verses into the song, Joseph makes a reference to “Car Radio” from the previous album. The line from “Car Radio” says, “I have these thoughts so often I ought to replace this slot with what I once bought.” The similar line in “Levitate” says, “I got back with what I once bought back in that slot I won’t need to replace.” The car radio represented distractions Joseph would use to avoid contact with the real world. Now that Joseph has those distractions again, his mental state has become more and more treacherous.

The third song on the album, “Morph,” tells the main story of the album. The listener learns the identity of Nico, the titular character of another song on the album, “Nico and the Niners.” His full name is Nicolas Bourbaki; the collective pseudonym for scientists who invented the notation for zero, Ø, which is used very commonly throughout their branding over the years. It is said that Nico is one of the nine bishops, which are representative of personalities of characters in every song from their previous album, Blurry face. The song as a whole is open-ended in order to project listeners’ insecurities and negative traits on the bishops. Joseph says that he wrote this song in the mindset of distracting himself, moving forward, and morphing in order to avoid isolation.

One of the more heartfelt songs on the album, “My Blood,” gives a warm, brotherly motivational statement. This song is from the perspective of Joseph’s brother, Zack. Zack’s role is to comfort his brother, Tyler. This is easily referenced in the line, “Stay with me, you don’t need to run.” There are also other possibilities that the song is implied for either a romantic interest, the listener, Joseph himself, or to the banditos. But overall, this song definitely plays as one of the most heartfelt pieces throughout the album.

One of the more personal songs for Joseph is “Chlorine.” This song embodies a cry for help; the ingestion of the chlorine is less about harming himself, and more for cleansing himself of dark thoughts. The beat of the music is the chemical while his love for creating music is cathartic. During the song, Joseph is no longer cathartic with creating music. Now, he lives to create music and it’s his source of income to support him and his family.

One of the songs with a side story is “Smithereens.” This song is Twenty-One Pilots version of a love song, fun and quirky, but with a lot of heart deep down. The mood of the piece shows how you can be depressed while still being able to have happy moments in life.

The song with the most social influence is “Neon Gravestones,” this piece stands as a redemption since critics called out the band for “glorifying” depression in their previous albums. The lyrics begin to break down how society and social media glorify people who take their lives by suicide, therefore making their stories more about death instead of looking back on their lives for all the good they did. Hence, neon is a fake light so the neon gravestone is distracting from the actual person and focusing more on how they died.

One of the more anticiapted songs is “The Hype.” The whole song is about maintaining hope through hard times, whether it be through a mental struggle or a physical struggle. It’s set while Joseph was young and in elementary school. At that time, Joseph struggled with different internal pressures from himself and external pressures from his peers. Overall, the song embodies hope that should stay with everyone through thick and thin.

“Nico and the Niners” references the nine bishops of DEMA and Nico. In the song, Joseph sings about Clancy’s escape from DEMA and the effect it had on him through the lyrics, “East is up. When Bishops come together they will know that DEMA don’t control us.” This line shows how he has escaped the terrible city and is free from the bishops who had controlled him for so long. The very first line of the song states, “We denounce vitalism, you will leave DEMA and head true East, we are Banditos.” The twist to this line is that it is actually said in reverse. By being reversed, it starts the song off with a mysterious feel that keeps the listener intrigued to find out why this line is different from the rest. Throughout the song, Joseph reminds the listener that their emotions and negative thoughts don’t control them. He also states that the best time to seek mental health is now, “What a beautiful day for making a break for it.” Being one of the most popular songs from the album, “Nico and the Niners” gives the listener something to consider in order to better themselves.

One of the overlooked songs on the album, “Cut my Lip,” shows an unfaltering determination to navigate through life safely. It also shows Clancy’s willingness to do anything in order to escape DEMA. When Clancy escapes, he drinks an unknown liquid that represents his freedom, “rust around the rim.” The rust on the rim of his drink is what cut his lip. This shows that it takes a sacrifice to achieve freedom.

The heart-stopper of the album is the beautiful “Bandito.” The repeating message mostly throughout the chorus of the song is that one can take the high road, but he’s still “going low.” The most common interpretation of this line relates to the line, “I’m lighter when I’m lower, I’m higher when I’m heavy,” from “Nico and the Niners.” This most likely means that Joseph is choosing to create the album he wants, instead of making an album in a way just to make it mainstream. Another repeating line is “Sahlo Folina.” If you unscramble this, it says “All the Ohio Fans”(the band members are originally from Ohio). These lines really show how hidden things are the most important. Some of these lines with hidden meanings are just a small preview of how in-depth Twenty-One Pilots writes their songs.

The song with the most confusing story is “Pet Cheetah.” During this song, Joseph mentions that his house is the one with vultures on the roof. This suggests that his house is in DEMA where vultures perch on the roof to pick apart their prey. These vultures are also featured on the album cover.

The next song on the album, “Legend,” is a loving tribute to Joseph’s grandfather, Robert. The late Robert was featured on the cover of their previous album, Vessel.

The concluding song on the album, “Leave the City,” leaves the listener feeling incomplete. Unlike previous albums that end in a piano ballad with a crescendo, this one never crescendos and just leaves the listener empty and questioning if this is actually end of the album. The ending symbolizes how you never reach the end of a battle with mental health and how it is an ongoing struggle. Throughout the song, there is a repetition of the phrase “they know that it’s almost over” which is a reference to nine bishops knowing the end is near as Joseph begins to control his thoughts.

In the end, Twenty-One Pilots’ Trench serves as a comforting source for anyone who is experiencing mental struggles. The band members also use their influence on listeners to encourage them to seek help and to help stop their suffering whether it be mental or physical. Now with that being said, welcome to the Trench.