Twenty One Pilot’s highly anticipated alt-rock album of the year has registered a shallower impact than the hype behind it. It is one regular conceptual album about depression and does not go many directions to turn in more fertility for the brand. There is, however, a more endearing address to celebrity suicides. Lyrics bide in a fine sense of fantasy, redeeming the album from falling into a puddle of total debacle. Depression is in the air, in Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment, in SNL’s first two episodes, in the Oval Office, and even in Sharp Objects. Trench just reminds of the same depression, albeit in a nauseating clinical fashion.
The duo’s singer and songwriter, Tyler Joseph, has personally a long history of depression. In fact, in Blurry face, he embodied his own inner demons. Depression has been a major subject of his work, and as it is quite palpable now, his work is even emitting a like atmosphere. Joseph does not get a grasp on being low-key about the condition; he just builds around a brilliant concept, pitch black lacunas too bottomless to tell a suitable tale.
Twenty One Pilots’ fourth album is mostly an allegory taking place in a fantasy dystopia. What is exclusive to this seemingly ingenious album is its target audience. The song isn’t about Vogue and has nothing to do with page 3. It’s not a catfight between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, it is not a socially uplifting chant in a cynical era. It is a song that reverts one back to the nostalgic essence of YA Sci-Fi and gaming. It instantly clicks not to masses, but to emo gaming boys who have found their desolation in cryptic world of virtual panels. Trench unapologetically is meant for an apparent wiz cult. It is about depression, in its psychological, physical and even electrical forms.
In the list of 14 tracks, sadly the ones that are actually good are free for all figurative voice. Tyler became a virtuoso for his masterful personification and parody of real-time psychiatric distress. However, the repetitive concept does not bear much fruit here. There’s specifically one provocative number, “Neon Gravestones,” that may be debated on by several fans. In fact, some of the mental health specialists who track pop culture will state their careful analysis of this stuff in the months to come.
Joseph goes wrong on several sad levels. He blames suicidal victims for their illness. Not just this, he urges them cosmetically to think about eternal coolness before falling prey to disillusionment. And this is something he urges people to do in a condition where they have lost their will to live. Joseph will inevitably come under fire for this ignorant mention. Over a sad 6/8 piano riff that picks up some life as the electronic percussion picks up the pace, Joseph scorns the culture of romanticizing celebrity suicides. The fact that he has drawn attention to a sequence of unfortunate deaths is commendable (Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade), but the way he handles it wasn’t very wise.
The intention of the duo is perhaps noble. Just like before they want to save lives, But things are harshly serious to deliver the effect. You cannot blame a young person for worrying about his professional future, and for letting apprehension kick in- when the nightmarish developments can actually rot reality. There is one inviting respite from the death and/or depression — “Smithereens,”. The album is divinely devoted to myths and metaphors. Serialization in thunderous numbers like Jumpsuit and Morph is delightful, otherwise, the symbolism is cringe- evoking. Nonetheless, at least talking about intrinsic depression is more thought evolving than talking about natural depression.