It's an unfortunate truth, but sometimes the attribute that makes a band feel unique can turn around to bite them later on down the road. Twenty One Pilots
has used their unfamiliar rap-infused electronic pop to gather a following, and it led them to Blurryface
, their third studio album. Although they demonstrate clever songwriting and boast some seriously powerful tunes, the interspersed rapping only finds its stride a few times throughout the album. Bringing in a different producer for nearly every track doesn't help with this as the record feels lost in itself, not knowing exactly what it is or what it is trying to be.
The album opens with "Heavydirtysoul" and "Stressed Out," two tracks that highlight the bands poetic raps. The clever rhymes fit well over the interesting electronic rock beats booming in the background. This is all fine by me, but I became comfortable with this and was thrown off guard as the album progressed into tracks like "Ride." The immediate jump into a syncopated upbeat pop anthem brought my mind back to what I normally associate with Twenty One Pilots. As the raps came in over this softer synth beat, the track feels complete and fits well within itself. It demonstrates that initial spark that draws people to Twenty One Pilots; unfortunately, this feeling is only present on a few tracks off of the album.
These more complete tracks that demonstrate a fuller composition are surrounded by songs that focus too much on one aspect of the bands repertoire. We get suckered into basic beats and weak choruses that try too hard to be a rap song, like in "Lane Boy." Clearly frustrated with the state of radio today, these raps focusing on being outside of the mainstream become dated. It's when the raps are lighthearted and placed alongside progressive electronic beats that they retain their enjoyable uniqueness associated with the band name.
As a complete album, Blurryface
feels disjointed. The tracks are staggering and aren't placed well together. This is a shame because there are some truly good pieces here that aren't given the home they deserve. The closing track "Goner" is a beautifully composed piano canzone that lets the recurring subject matter of the album rise up unlike on any other track. It's clear that the duo are some talented poets, and their lyrics continuously hit on topics of self-discovery and a loss of identity, to good effect. All too often though, these themes get lost in an unfamiliar surrounding.