‘Trench’ album review

Image courtesy of Fueled By Ramen

album: Trench
artist: twenty one pilots
genre: pop rock
release date: October 5, 2018
star rating: four out of five

review by Levi Yager

The boys are back with the release of their new album, Trench. One of this year’s most anticipated records, Trench is an interesting beast. While many elements on the album are sure to be familiar to twenty one pilots fans, Trench stands out due to its overall melancholy mood. The weighted approach comes naturally, though, as the duo dives headfirst into the darkness they’ve touched on before in previous releases.

Kicking off the album, “Jumpsuit” is a real banger. It grabs your attention and gets things going with gritty electric guitars and twenty one pilots’ signature cryptic lyrics. The song features a pensive, piano-led bridge and later culminates in an explosive ending.

It’s followed by the unique “Levitate,” which is the band’s only song with just rapping and no singing. “Levitate” is cool, but it’s not nearly as great as track three, titled “Morph.” Lounge influences permeate “Morph” and complement the dense groove going on. The lyrics are basically about the dynamic of belief and uncertainty – and avoiding the confrontation of those concepts. The song will quickly get you singing “I’ll morph to someone else.”

While Trench is definitely a strong album, it has a few misses along with the hits. To clarify, there’s not really a bad song anywhere to be found here, but some songs are easily outshone by the more amazing cuts on the record.

The showstopper on Trench is “Neon Gravestones.” It bravely addresses the dangers of people using suicide as a tool for revenge, and it also delves into the associated feelings of hopelessness. “Neon Gravestones” is a softer song, and it has a haunting combination of simple piano work and tired vocals.

All things considered, the record finishes strong with the four final tracks. My personal favorite of those is “Bandito.” It’s fairly minimalistic and mostly sticks to repeating the chorus of: “I could take the high road, but I know that I’m going low. I’m a bandito.” The captivating keys and synthesizers add to the almost trance-like atmosphere in the song. It has a sweet synth-driven section two-thirds of the way through as well. “Bandito” is, without a doubt, one of the best tracks on Trench.

The satisfying – yet gloomy – last song, “Leave The City,” does a great job of book-ending the memorable moments twenty one pilots have created with Trench. The song is about a departure of sorts and is likely a reference to death. Because this album generally walks on the shadier side of the street, some listeners may find it depressing at times. While I find the gravitas warranted and compelling, it could naturally make the album somewhat less accessible compared to twenty one pilots’ preceding LP.

The musicality of Trench is a definite highlight and gives the album some intriguing character. Specifically, the drumming is on-point, as usual, and there’s a lot of great bass in the mix, too. Additionally, Trench includes a recurring use of horns at different points, which is neat. Another aspect that ties the album together nicely is the fact that a lot of the tracks flow into each other with seamless transitions; it makes for a cohesive listening experience.

Whether or not Trench becomes your top twenty one pilots album, I recommend giving it at least a few spins. There’s more than enough here to chew on for awhile – musically and lyrically – and you’ll probably end up coming back for more.

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