Whether you’ve been a fan of Twenty One Pilots since before Vessel, or even before their self released Regional At Best, welcome to the Blurryface era. I have not been so excited for an album, specifically a concept album, since I was probably 14. The idea of a concept album, or rather, declaring an album to be a concept album, is a bit frightening, and seems like a huge burden to place upon any album. I don’t prefer labeling albums this way as I feel like it might distract from the interpretation, or cheapen the music by making it seem artificial. However, Twenty One Pilots have released the perfectly imperfect album. Through promotion and the four music videos that Twenty One Pilots have released, it’s evident that Blurryface is the most relate-able conceptual albums in it’s simplicity: we all have Blurryface inside of us, representing our fears and our demons.
The album starts with the commanding and immediate attention grabbing “heavydirtysoul”, which serves as the best choice for an album opener. It’s fast paced and has a heavy beat courtesy of drummer Josh Dun. It is an impressive vocal by Tyler Joseph as well, as it showcases not only his vocal range, but ability. (Fans might also notice that Blurryface draws from older material the band has published, such as a majority of the lyrics in "heavydirtysoul," taken from a street poetry video published by Rocksound, as well as the last track, “Goner”, which draws from a video published by the band in 2012.)
The following track, “Stressed Out” which was the third song the band released from the album, introduces the character of Blurryface, as well as introduce the relatability. Lyrically, it hits home for many. It’s a song about growing up, and desperately wanting to not grow older and go back in time. Next on the album is “Ride”, a more upbeat and easy going song that serves as the first notion that something is wrong: it lyrically explores thinking too much, and wanting help.
“Fairly Local”, the first single released off the album, follows in haunting fashion. This song is the voice of Blurryface, battling with the voice of reason. It lyrically bounces back and forth between lead singer Tyler Joseph’s inner demons, and his rational thought. Switching the beat, “Tear In My Heart” follows as one of the strongest tracks on the album. It completely turns the haunting to happy, with a catchy chorus and some unreal synths- an instant Twenty One Pilots fan favorite.
“Lane Boy” sits at track number 6, and is not a personal favorite of mine musically. It’s got a fast paced beat similar to “heavydirtysoul”. The lyrics are in depth and a reflection and growth of the band from a local band to internationally recognized one, as well as the pressure of selling out that most successful bands are faced with. Throughout, the band have stayed true to the image that they initially created. “The Judge” starts off in different fashion than other Twenty One Pilots’ tracks that feature a ukelele: it’s sad, and despite happy sounding progression, lyrically explores something even darker than Blurryface: the concept of Hell, and even religion.
“Doubt” also follows that similar concept of religion, specifically the lyrics in the bridge. It’s more of an electronically driven song, with a particularly intriguing chorus. “Polarize” also has a similar electronic sound, and lyrically touches on wanting to be better. “We Don’t Believe What’s On TV” is the more upbeat sounding song that features a ukelele, however it’s the trumpet that has a sad undertone to it. A lot of the songs that sound like you want them to be happy, but somehow sound sad are what makes this album perfect- because that is Blurryface coming through again, only more subtly. This song is all about self doubt and fear as well, only how much more real it feels if the self-doubt is really coming from your sane mind, opposed to any depression or anxiety you might be dealing with.
“Message Man” is a fight back against your demons, and is for the few who understand. It’s about feeling less alone, knowing that others may share similar feelings and taking the united strength that specifically, the band have found with their fans, and fighting back together. This song is lyrically heavy and has a lot going on that I don’t want to pick apart too much more in order to leave it for my own ongoing interpretation. “Hometown” has got a catchy beat and hook, and lyrically speaks of uncertainty.
“Not Today” is about not letting Blurryface win, and serves as a final conversation and conflict between Blurryface and Tyler Joseph. It’s got a soul within it, and almost is a celebratory anthem about the personal victories and triumph that we might experience through our battles. “Goner” is the final track on the album and concludes the album with acceptance. It is about acknowledging darkness within, but recognizing that it’s not really who you are. It speaks of having two faces but being who you are, not letting your demons represent the person you are deep down, and screaming for help to conquer them.
Blurryface is all about who you are and what you are, seeing within yourself in order to become the better version of yourself. It’s about fear, doubt, and anxiety. By listening, it’s the first step to help you through it. The way that this album is both a reflection of Tyler Joseph’s struggles, but resonates with so many thousands of their fans is a true testament on how this album is one that can change lives through the abstract relatability that it presents. Twenty One Pilots are creating music that is real, through drawing from life in order to create something that is a narrative for all those who are still struggling through their life. Blurryface might not be real, but one thing is for sure: Twenty One Pilots are, and they’re here to stay.
DOWNLOAD: “Tear in My Heart”, “Ride”, “Doubt”, and “Goner”