Twenty One Pilots have never done things by half. Every record that they have produced over their varied, colourful, boundary smashing career has been nothing less than a triumph for all that have let it into their hearts, souls and minds. Yet with ‘Trench’, there is something different. Something deeper. Two years on from its release, we look at exactly what that is.
It’s normal for a band’s previous work to be brought to the forefront of the conversation when a new album is. Though to compare 2015’s ‘Blurryface’ to anything that Pilots were set to produce with ‘Trench’ would be criminal. ‘Blurryface’ was a moment in time. An explosion of light and sound and feeling and passion that is impossible to replicate in any way. Which is exactly why ‘Trench’ is nothing like it. It doesn’t grab you by the throat and demand you dance till your feet subsequently drop off. It doesn’t whizz and bang and pop and fizz like many may have wanted it to. It just wouldn’t work. Instead it waits patiently, becoming more and more prominent each time you let it enter your body before completely and utterly taking over. It wants to be perused and explored, studied and debated. Every single second of audio output exists for a very important reason, completely unique to every other second of audio found on the album. Everything is in place for a reason and nothing is a mistake. It is a record that wants you to become enamoured with it, and it’s impossible not to.
Musically, ‘Trench’ is as ambitious as the band has ever been in a career built on pushing the limits. It is calm and considered, tender and titillating, visceral and vulnerable. It triggers as many emotional responses as it possibly can by dipping in to as many different areas of the psyche as it possibly can. Where ‘Jumpsuit’ whooshes like an air raid siren shaking you from your slumber, ‘Chlorine’ patters your eardrums with waves of gorgeously varied emotion. Where ‘Pet Cheetah’ feels almost demonic as it attacks and ensnares the senses with its convulsing and sporadic electronics, ‘Cut My Lip’ shimmers with horns and slow burning beats. There's the life-affirming pace of ‘The Hype’, the rousing attention to detail of ‘Legend’ and the pulsing attitude of ‘Levitate’. The fact that it is so hard to pin down exactly what ‘Trench’ is as a whole body record is the highest testament to its brilliance. It is not made for boxes or to be pigeonholed and categorised. It exists free of convention and societal norm, leaping and bounding as it pleases and it is a wonderful sight to behold.
Going even deeper, lyrically ‘Trench’ goes in harder than ever before. Tyler Joseph has always excelled when let loose to pen what is buzzing around his head, but never has he delved as deep as he has on ‘Trench’. The “save your razorblades” call of ‘Nico And The Niners’. The no-holds-barred poetic assault that exists within the confines of ‘Neon Gravestones’. The deeply affecting and hard to stomach narrative of ‘Morph’. The defiant and inspiring approach of ‘Leave The City’. They all paint a picture of an artist who is unafraid to bare his soul to all. To create a world where his insecurities and anxieties can exist in such fine detail is something that should be celebrated and appreciated. It is a world that we can all relate to and one that deserves our undivided attention.
Though what truly makes ‘Trench’ so special is the scope of what it represents. Beyond Dema. Beyond the Bishops. Beyond Clancy. Beyond the jumpsuits and the yellow tape. Even beyond Tyler and Josh. All of these things represent something so much more real than we can really comprehend. It is the very essence of living represented through beats and ukuleles and drums and synths and bars and choruses and passages of gorgeous noise. ‘Trench’ is something that exists within all of us. It is a physical entity that we either stay hidden within letting its diameters control our lives or something that we fly over the top of in a wild fury with no regard for how we will end up on the other side. ‘Trench’ is the process of us coming to terms with our own demons and tackling them in our own ways. It is overcoming the obstacles that life throws at us together, with pride in our hearts and love in our souls. ‘Trench’ understands that though life is full of bumps it is worth embracing every single one of them, as they are what make us who we are. These 14 tracks represent a life well lived and a life worth living.
It’s clear to see how much of an impact ‘Trench’ has had on those who have let it get under their skin over the last two years. Yet the most exciting part is what effect it is going to have in 5 years? 10? What mark is ‘Trench’ going to have on all those who adore it when the dust has settled? How many lives will it have changed? How many people will have its words inked into their skin? How many voices will have been lost singing along to it? How many lives will it have subsequently saved thanks to the sheer honesty of its content?
What Twenty One Pilots did with 'Trench' was forge is a record for the ages. One that will continue to provide joy and inspire change long in to the future. That is why it is the most important record of their career and why it should be celebrated in such a way.