Review: ‘Trench’

By Anna Thomas

After their successful 2015 album, “Blurryface,” and nearly two years of touring, it seems the famous Twenty One Pilots duo haven’t taken a day off since. Their newest album “Trench,” released on Oct. 5, revisits the topic of mental illness, something lead singer Tyler Joseph has admitted to struggling with while discussing his music. The literary complexity of the album creates a hard-hitting storyline that reminds the listener who Twenty One Pilots truly is: artists who write for the sake of their listeners and themselves. They are poets in every sense of the word.

Prior to the album’s debut, the alternative duo released three singles: “Jumpsuit,” “Nico and The Niners,” and “Levitate.” The corresponding music videos tell the tale of character Clancy’s attempted escape from Dema, the fictional, walled city that many believe to symbolize the containing and unavoidable nature of depression. The city is controlled by nine bishops, one in particular bishop, Nickolas or “Nico,” is referenced in “Nico and The Niners” and throughout the album. Joseph sings, “when bishops come together they will know that / Dema don’t control us, Dema don’t control us.”  These lyrics, accompanied by the quick pace of the song, is empowering for those trapped in their own heads.

The story continues to develop throughout the 14-track album, but is clearly and most explicitly depicted in the three symbolic videos. Twenty-One Pilots held true to their story-telling ways after their themed album of ‘Blurryface.’ And, according to an analysis by, the two albums may even connect in a number of ways. For instance, the nine bishops of Trench may very well trace back to ‘Blurryface,’ particularly its album cover with the nine circles.

Twenty One Pilots showed once again that behind every word and note, there is great meaning. The symbolic nature of the album is more advanced than anything they have yet to produce, making it either more intriguing or too complicated for the listener. Without the initial music videos, it’s hard to follow along. This is especially evident in “Jumpsuit”, a song with little lyrical explanation. Without the music video (moreover, without the rest of the album), this song holds little meaning.

Whether you consider that to be a flaw in the artists’ work or an innovation, it’s the nature of the album. That being said, ‘Trench’ is more than just its musical surface. It’s literary components must be analyzed to truly get a grasp of its poetic beauty. And, just as one might read a book, listening to the album’s tracks in chronological order makes sense of it all.

Twenty One Pilots have reintroduced society to their story-based music. And the messages that are unveiled throughout are nothing to overlook.

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