The long-awaited follow-up of their 2015 hit album ‘Blurryface’, Columbus duo Twenty One Pilots’ return to music was a surprising and unexpected one to say the least. With radio silence from both vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun since the summer of 2017, it was unsure when they would return, if they ever did. Back in July however, with no warning, the band sent out images of a yellow eye opening, and before the fandom – known as “the clique” – knew it, two brand new songs had dropped. And that was the beginning of the lead-up to what can be accurately described as the most anticipated album of 2018.
The band are looking from a new perspective this time round, as the tone of the music changes and the tracks follow a storyline in a fictional world containing two contrasting cities of sorts: the prison-like Dema, and the haven that is Trench. The tracks act like a guide through this fantasy world, both Dema and Trench being explicitly discussed in tracks such as the single “Nico and The Niners”, and the closing track “Leave The City”. The entirety of the album revolves around the themes of mental health, suicide, death, hope, and faith, with the cities of Dema and Trench representing mental illness and mental wellbeing, from the perspective of the main lyricist of the band, Tyler Joseph.
Touching upon his depression and anxiety in predecessor ‘Blurryface’, Joseph decided to not shy away from comfronting his inner doubt for ‘Trench’. From the catchy, in-depth “Chlorine” to the slow-tempo yet hopeful “The Hype”, Joseph’s process of creativity has taken a great leap since 2015.
The most impactful track on the album without a doubt is the piano-led ballad “Neon Gravestones”. Tackling depression, suicide, and the romanticising of death, Joseph took the conscious decision to not hide the topic behind his fantasy world for this track. His rap/spoken word section hits hard enough to bring listeners to tears upon every play. He opens up about how “neon gravestones try to call for my bones“, and moves on to explain that he wishes to not be praised if he ended his own life. The song is positively received for its blunt discussion of suicide, but should also be acknowledged for speaking against romanticising suicide and death.
As a band that takes on “taboo” subjects of life often in their art, they have been accused in the past of putting them across as trivial or idyllic. This was the band’s way of fighting that accusation, and it is honest and heartfelt because this is the rawest emotion they have ever put across in a tune.
Within this fourteen-track venture, the band released another personal track, “Legend”. One written for Joseph’s late grandfather, who passed away earlier this year, it captures a truthful timeline from the conception of the song to completing the recording process; with Joseph admitting in the lyrics that “the masters and the mixes, will take too long to finish, to show you“. It further cements that ‘Trench’ is the most personal album released by Joseph and Dun, full of emotion and opinions on the tougher sides of life.
In the modern era of the music industry, what Twenty One Pilots has pulled off with the build-up and release of ‘Trench’ is phenomenal. Starting with sending out an email to everyone signed up to the fanclub, continuing with sudden music video releases, a one-off show in London, teasing new tunes on advertisements, and ending with the eventual release of the record, it is a time to remember for both dedicated music fans and hardcore members of the group’s clique.
Everyone will find at least one song they enjoy on this album. Everyone should listen to this album once. It is an album for the ages, and definitely one of the greatest releases of the year.