A nostalgic album experience


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Singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun performing at Phoenix, Arizona for their “Blurryface” tour in 2015.

After their hit single “Stressed Out” reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 100, alternative rock band Twenty One Pilots took a hiatus, keeping themselves out of the spotlight. Earlier this month, the silence was broken with their album “Trench” exploring an extended metaphor for depression and other mental health issues.

While their 2015 album “Blurryface” consisted of almost exclusive rock throughout the album, “Trench,” returns to the piano chords, rap and emotionally weighty lyrics that defined the band’s earlier years.

Twenty One Pilots has not lost their signature sound and obscure storylines in their new album. Lyricist Tyler Joseph paints a story through the songs on the album, providing lyrical commentary on depression and suicide.

While none of the “Trench” singles have taken off like “Stressed Out” did in 2015, the album gives older fans a chance to return to the music from the band’s pre-mainstream era, with songs reminiscent of hits from their 2011 album “Regional at Best” or their 2013 album “Vessel.”

“Trench” begins with one of the singles released earlier this year, “Jumpsuit.” While other songs on the album explore rap or acoustic piano, “Jumpsuit” sounds the most like songs from their most recent album “Blurryface,” with heavy electronic rock and yelling.

The song signals that the album is telling the story of people in a prison of depression and sadness. As a fan of the band’s less aggressive music, “Jumpsuit” and the next song on the album,“Levitate,” were too loud and jarring for me to enjoy the deeper metaphors in the lyrics.

However, the album third song, “Morph” reminded me of their older music, with light keyboard music playing behind clever rap verses and a catchy and melodic chorus. Joseph dives into heavier topics with the song, rapping that he “can’t stop thinking about if and when I die.”

The band delves into more R&B style music with songs like “Legend” and “The Hype,” which felt straight out of  their album “Regional at Best,” with their melodic choruses, catchy drum rhythms and heavy synthesizer keyboard style music.

While I enjoyed this catchy style of music, my favorite songs on the album are ones with a more acoustic vibe, with ukulele undertones and piano. I especially enjoyed “Smithereens,” a keyboard and drums based song dedicated to Joseph’s wife, and “Bandito,” dedicated to his fans— self named “The Clique”.  

“Neon Gravestones” also stood out, with soft piano chords accompanying rapping about society’s culture of glorifying celebrity suicides.

Joseph addresses his own depression in the song, telling his fans to “promise me this, if I lose to myself, you won’t mourn a day.” The song has the heaviest and most meaningful lyrics in the album, preaching to his young fans to “find your grandparents or someone of age. Pay some respects for the path that they paved.”

“Trench” reminded me of why I fell in love with the band in the early 2010s.

The album might not have been their most successful album, but the lyrics of the band continues to address mental health and Joseph’s personal struggle, while creating catchy melodic music that fans can sing along to.

While songs from “Blurryface” reached the ears of millions on the radio, “Trench” will reach into people’s hearts with its lyrics and instrumental variety.