Twenty One Pilots
Vessel Album Review
Fueled By Ramen Records
Released January 8, 2013
Genre: Alternative Hip Hop, Indietronica, Piano Rock
Twenty One Pilots is one of the few bands out there that, surprisingly, master all genres they encompass on their eclectic sophomore album. While surpassing expectations, they deliver a very unique album that is filled with catchy hooks, outstanding production and loads of personality.
Ominously opening up the album is “Ode To Sleep” and although the song hints at a very dark tone, they switch up the mood to a more lively, buoyant ode showing no stitches in the process. When being performed live, they don skeleton outfits and as the lively section enters the masks are off and the true masters behind Twenty One Pilots are exposed. However, solidarity probably wasn’t in mind as the track does a complete 180, switching up personalities as much as a bipolar patient would. But they handle the transitions smoothly; it’s alarming but also a very easy shift.
The next four tracks are very strong; with catchy hooks (Holding On To You), danceable beats (Migraine), interestingly unexpected instrumentation (House of Gold) and very meaningful, pensive lyrics (Car Radio) the duo shows that there’s more to them then meets the eye even bringing in some dance-style synths in “Guns For Hands” and “Trees” that will make anyone jump around crazily as the excitement and personality of the songs brings the soul in you to life. But towards the end they calm down the album with the beautiful ballad “Truce”, a very sweet and passionate closing to Vessel.
From the manic, clever mind of lead singer Tyler Joseph, the lyrical content on this LP is something worth noting for it treads the emotions of paranoia, anxiety, fear and joy, along with some quick and witty word play. “Holding On To You” features a sample of Dem Franchize Boyz’ 2006 track, “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It” even disdaining the lyricism of popular culture and Dem Franchize Boyz. “Lean with it, rock with it/When we gonna stop with it/Lyrics that mean nothing, we were gifted with thought/Is it time to move our feet to an introspective beat/It ain’t the speakers that bump hearts, it’s our hearts that make the beat”, chants Joseph as synths circle and Dun’s drums carry the song to a triumphant finish.
On “House of Gold”, Joseph promises wealth and rest, showing very introspective and heartfelt lyricism , proving that this band aren’t a bunch of demeaning young adults. They thrive off of music, basically not able to live without music as heard in the gasping yells of “Car Radio”, where a combination of dance beats and synths, boiling screams and “Whooooooaaaasss” break down the barriers that they’ve set up for themselves, now the content on this LP can figuratively go anywhere. However, the lyrical content does get a little melodramatic and over compensates the tone of the album, never living up to the ambition that they have exemplified for themselves.
Twenty One Pilots deliver a lot of potential on this sophomore LP, especially with this new lineup of theirs. From the screaming yet quick and nasal-heavy vocal delivery courtesy of lead singer Tyler Joseph to the bombastic, energetic drumming from percussion powerhouse Josh Dun, the band delivers on every level of appeal as they jump thorough different genres like dance music to rap rock to pop to rock, everything is there. It may be a little disjointed but it showcases the roads that they can tackle. A sampler maybe?
With every listen the level of appreciation grows more than you think. I do feel that when some genres overcome the mix they give, it tends to become a bit irritating or tedious such as the erratic synths in “Semi-Automatic”. It isn’t too much of a problem but upon first listen the lisping vocals and corny lyricism along with the erratic synths hover your finger over the skip button. Additionally, the switch ups between the electronic tracks and ukelele based tracks throw off the flow of the album as it fails to stay focused throughout. I mean when’s the last time you heard a ukelele on an album with hip hop beats?
By fusing the popular genres of rap, pop, electronic, and rock, they exhibit so many opportunities as to see why and how Twenty One Pilots can and will achieve success.By delivering one of the most conscious, confident and fun releases of the year, Twenty One Pilots show that they aren’t messing around. Some people will put down this album as juvenile, childish maybe even cocky, but no one can deny the curve ball that they throw, it’s one you will never see coming and one you won’t mind slamming you directly in the face. In a year full of music that made us cry, made us dance, and made us smile, Twenty One Pilots gave us an album that made us feel their passion, troubles and triumphs.
Corny? Yes, but the skill and passion is there even if it gets incredibly cringey in the process.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Ode To Sleep, Holding On To You, Migraine, Car Radio, Gun For Hands, Trees, Truce
LEAST FAV TRACK: Semi-Automatic