Reviewed by Jonathan Harris
The name Twenty One Pilots was inspired by a play, All My Sons, which features a contractor who knowingly sells faulty plane parts to allied troops in WWII in order to pay his bills, which results in the death of 21 pilots. The duo, now of course frequent British chart-makers, intend that this serves as a reminder not to compromise for a short-term profit. The album cover features a picture of the group's grandfathers, which may lull any unsuspecting listener into a false sense of security before they hit play and launch a multi-faceted audio assault on their ears. For that reason I'm going to struggle to place this album into any particular musical category, so I'll play safe and go with the far reaching "pop". 2013's 'Vessel' was the third album released by the Ohio-based duo and although parallels are drawn between frontman Tyler Joseph and Eminem are obvious and often cited, I heard a bit of Owl City in some of the tunes on this album and Killers in others, which goes a long way in demonstrating the ability and diversity of the duo. The opening track "Ode To Sleep" is one of several tracks revamped from their self-release 'Regional At Best'. It's fair to say that this album is radio-ready, albeit that "Holding On To You" and "Screen" are songs which wage war against conforming to easy listening pop-sentiments when God has given a far greater gifting and calling. That said, make no mistake that even if the sound of the songs is at times radio-ready, the lyrics pull no punches and Josh and Tyler won't shy away from addressing hard topics. "Guns For Hands" is a song which was penned off the back of early tours where a number of their fans would chat to the band after a performance and open up about struggles that they were going through, including suicidal thoughts. At the end of the album (save for the four bonus tracks), the drums, bass and synths are put to bed and the piano-backed "Truce" includes the lyrics ". . .stay alive/stay alive for me . . ."
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