Some genres were just never meant to work together, but sometimes someone breaks the rules. And they make something new and amazing altogether.
A new musical obsession of mine for these past weeks has been Twenty One Pilots. Their major label debut album, Vessel, is one epic, chaotic piece of catchy brilliance. To clarify on the beginning statement, these guys blend a mixture of rap, folk, pop, dub step, electronic, a bit of screaming, and piano ballads, and most times all these appear in just one song.
One of the best examples of what this album brings is the opening track, “Ode to Sleep.” Beginning with an industrial sounding intro, then heading into Tyler’s rapping, before switching effortlessly into a bouncy folk song, and finally into a pop number in the chorus. It’s an early highlight of the album.
To tell you what kind of album this is would be nearly impossible, since you just never know what to expect when the next song comes around. The second song, “Holding On To You,” and the third song, “Migraine,” are mostly rap based, with an electronic foreground and sung chorus, but are definitely not lesser cousins to the others, with the former giving away a chilling falsetto bridge. And after those two, we head into “House of Gold,” which is completely driven by a ukulele!
Lyrically these songs are surprisingly deep. “Holding On To You,” speaks about letting go of the flesh and letting God surround every part of our lives. “Car Radio,” talks (literally as it’s a spoken word track) about how music can distract us from our own feelings and work as an escape from reality. “Screen,” is about how we tend to put on a fake performance to hide who we really are, I do not know, why I would go, in front of you and hide my soul…. I’m standing in front of you, I’m trying to be so cool, everything together trying to be so cool. Before proclaiming in the chorus, We’re broken people. But my favourite lyrically is easily “Trees.” A song about reaching out to those who are lonely and rejected. The chorus cries in anguish, I can feel your breath, I can feel my death. I want to know you, I want to see, I want to say “hello.” All of the songs though, like the insanely catchy “Guns For Hands,” are open to personal interpretation, which is what makes them all so good.
The production on this album is flawless, and though the songs are all over the map, they just fit. There is no song that feels out of place. Each has its own unique personality, and each will either give you a hug or make you dance until you can’t, and like I said before, it often happens at the same time.
Overall I’m really struggling to find a fault in this album. I’d be sorely disappointed if one song was taken out. With that said, because of its adventurous nature, it might not be for everybody, especially for those who aren’t too fond of rap (which isn’t a problem for this reviewer). But honestly, I think anyone would get pulled into their infectious sound if given a chance. In the end there is no doubt Twenty One Pilots have created something special with Vessel, and I’m certain that over time it could grow to be one of my very favourite albums. It feels like a special night out with your best friends, and like a night out, you’ll want to experience it over and over again.