Twenty One Pilots drums up a storm

Twenty One Pilots does not actually have twenty one people, nor does it have to do with airplanes.

The duo consists of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, who are both 26 and hail from Columbus, Ohio. The band, which previously included Nick Thomas and Chris Salih as well, released its first album Twenty One Pilots in 2009. From the start, the band created a devoted following in its hometown. Singer Tyler Joseph has written songs ever since he was a teenager, and when drummer Josh Dun joined the group in 2011, the two grew close. They released Vessel in 2013 and on May 19, 2015, Dun and Joseph dropped their new album, titled Blurryface.

The first single released was “Fairly Local”, a moody, heavy tune with pockets of synthesizers. Joseph’s vocals repeat throughout the background of the song while a single drum beat echoes. The song explores the constant fight between good and bad, as the first verse reads “I’m evil to the core/What I shouldn’t do I will/They say I’m emotional/What I wanna save I’ll kill” while the verse after the chorus says “I’m not evil to the core/What I shouldn’t do I will fight/I know I’m emotional/What I wanna save I will try.”

This theme of man’s internal battle continues throughout the album, in songs like “Polarize” (“I wanted to be a better brother, better son/Wanted to be a better adversary to the evil I have done”) and the dismal finale, “Goner” (“I’ve got two faces, Blurry’s the one I’m not”).

The second single, “Tear in My Heart,” was written undoubtedly for Joseph’s wife. The upbeat mix of piano and steady drumming leads into a synthesizing sound sifting through the chorus. Joseph’s lyrics are comedic yet romantic at the same time, as he blurts out “The songs on the radio are okay/ But my taste in music is your face.”

Dun’s drumming skills do not go unnoticed, however. “Lane Boy,” which starts out with a slow beat, transforms into a drum solo halfway through the song. The lyrics explore the difficulties of being a commercial artist and being forced to make music a certain way because of it. The chorus spits, “They say ‘stay in your lane boy, lane boy’ / but we go where we want to.” After the second chorus, the drumming speeds up intensely and new synthesized drum pads, as well as trumpets, are introduced. Suddenly, Dun furiously pounds on the drums with the trumpets blaring behind. The track then sounds like background music for a car chase. Throughout the rest of the album, Joseph plays the piano and ukulele as he has done previously, but also dabbles with the bass guitar and the organ.

The lyrics are what really showcase the band’s talent. In “Not Today” Joseph sings, “Oh don’t you test me, though/just because I play the piano/ doesn’t mean I am not willing to take you down,” then whispers an “I’m sorry,” which is humorous and fitting at the same time. In “Stressed Out,” Joseph perfectly describes his conflicted feelings about growing up when he sings “Out of student loans and tree house homes, we all would take the latter.”

Twenty One Pilots experiment with its sound on the album, using a wider variety of instruments. However, the dynamic and meaningful lyrics are still the same. Joseph continues singing about his insecurities, feelings and views on society while Dun bangs on the drums. This consistency is what makes the band what it is, and the small group from Columbus, Ohio is now flying high, topping the charts with Blurryface.