While 2015’s Blurryface received a pretty positive response from critics and fans alike, Trench, the fifth album from Twenty One Pilots, shows even more growth from the American duo, and is one of the most cohesive and immersive releases of the season.
After the grungey thump of opener Jumpsuit, which develops from soft tender vocals into an emo scream crescendo from frontman Tyler Joseph, this album takes an unexpected left turn. Tracks like Morph and Chlorine have the kind of gritty, punchy grooves and jazz-hop vibe you’d expect from Jungle, mixed with the melodic vocal style of indie popsters Foster The People, and it works really well.
The balance of these dark, evocative chill-wave moods, mid-tempo beats and varying vocal styles, are prominent in songs like My Blood, Smithereens and the standout track Cut My Lip, without becoming predictable. The swung rhythms, horn blasts and arpeggiated synths create the perfect setting for Joseph’s belt-out chorus, and the best lyrics on the album, “Though I am bruised/Face of contusions/Know I’ll keep moving”.
There are subdued piano moments too with Neon Gravestones, Bandito and closer Leave The City, which offer a sense of fragility, particularly to Jospeh’s voice, which feels a little forced or repetitive at times.
If Twenty One Pilots had trimmed off some of the fat here, such as Pet Cheetah (which could be off of Eminem’s Kamikaze or Revival), the ukulele-led Legend and the basic pulsing of Levitate, Trench would have been a pretty flawless album.
Five albums in, and this band certainly aren’t stuck in the mud, as they’ve delivered one of their best records so far.