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The Soundtrack to Your Fabulous and Epic Life: twenty|one|pilots’ Vessel


by Charissa Lock


One way to describe twenty|one|pilots (thank goodness for copy and paste) is a mix between “Punk Goes Pop” My Chemical Romance and Hoodie Allen.   This is not to limit Vessel (Out January 8th) [Fueled By Raman] into to either emo or pop rap sound, some tracks climb to ascending screams with others boasting 90’s Carlton dancing grooviness.   Yet, you get the general idea, and I’m sure that combination sounds pretty great right about now.

Twenty|one|pilots is an Ohio-based duo consisting of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun who have been making their way across country and into the minds of intrigued audiences via tours for headliners, such as Neon Trees.   Their heavily packed and well articulated lyrics are filled with thought provoking questions and ideas.  And in our generation, that sometimes isn’t enough, so Pilots dons masks (or painted faces) and outfits aiding to their theatrical performances as they begin their show.  Once the attention is grabbed, they let the costumes go and continue to put on quite an ADD invoked performance – with the inclusion of jumping off of double stacked amps.

So how does Vessel come off when thinking of twenty|one|pilots as Fueled By Ramen backed band?  Pretty diverse and fantastic.  This album is like a damn onion, there are layers you don’t hear the first time and as you continue listening, they just keep getting pulled back until you are left with a lot of wonderful feelings and tendency to hit repeat.  Going from white boy, with often intentional whiney, rapping to smooth and melodic moments is a jump and it may take a moment to get used to such things.  If you start off with the more Gerard Way’esque vocal tunes, like “House of Gold” you can sink in easy and then travel to more distinct vocal tracks.  Or just cannonball into it and experience the entire album as a whole, appreciating all the levels and genre crossovers that are becoming more and more apparent in music.


“Holding On To You” has been heading Vessel as the single, capturing the pop rap feel, only briefly tapping into their larger sound in choruses.   As the album progresses, there is a slide into singing verses, rather than rapping, though not to be removed all together.  With every song, there seems to be a new version of their sound – communicating their thoughts in many different ways, reaching to as many as possible.  “Car Radio” begins slower, with melodic and catchy rap verses leading to early morning club techno beats topping off with Tyler’s blood curdling screams.  On the other hand, “Semi-Automatic” is a rap-free 80s synth upbeat pop track, catchy and fun as all hell.  Think, a theatrical WALK THE MOON.  Twenty|one|pilots has a softer side, “Truce,” as well as a My Chemical Romance compiled addition “House of Gold” and anthem radiating “Screen” that just continue to block stereotypical ideologies.  One of my favorites, “The Run and Go” consists of pleasurable verse melodies, whistling, and obviously ending in screams and heavy beats.

Even without listening, you probably have gathered that every track has its own life form, growing and adapting.  Never leaving you thinking, “did I just hear this?” just shows that these lads have a lot of influences depicting their multi-layered sound.  Some bands have sounds that are made for a live combined transaction of energy and music, with powerhouse endings, upbeat electro pop enhanced dancing, and silent transitions building to sick beats or a tricky rap verse – twenty|one|pilots sweats an in-your-face live performance.  It will be interesting to see where this album goes, being able to gather up multiple personalities and musical tastes should send Vessels leaking into many Pandora and Spotify radios.

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TAGS: We Are Pilots, Embrace Change Or Be Left Behind, New Music, 2013, 1st review, surprisingly good, A Rappy Fun.