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Twenty One Pilots refuse to conform to mainstream in new album

Blurryface’

Twenty One Pilots

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If you want to understand Twenty One Pilots’ “Blurryface,” you need to only listen to one song.

“Lane Boy,” the album’s fourth single, describes the musical duo’s sophomore venture to a tee.

It explores the conflicts of artists Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun with their recent break into mainstream music.

The Columbus, Ohio-based duo refuses to stay in the mainstream “lane” and spends “Blurryface” weaving through the colorful mixture of sounds for which it is known.

Twenty One Pilots’ music has been classified under indie pop, alternitive hip-hop and electropop, a versatility that is challenged and showcased on the 14-track record.

Even so, popular influence has a heavier undertone in “Blurryface” than it does in the duo’s first album, “Vessel.”

Verse one of “Lane Boy” features the lyrics:

“There’s a few songs on this record that feel common / I’m in constant confrontation with what I want and what is poppin’.”

If I had to guess, Joseph is referring to tracks such as “Doubt” and “Tear in My Heart,” which still manage to have a fresh, Twenty One Pilots’ spin.

Whatever compromise the duo has made to keep up with the demands of the industry, it’s working.

“Blurryface” has a 5/5 rating on iTunes, where it held the top spot on the charts for several days and is expected to top the Billboard charts as well.

But where “Blurryface” will most succeed is on tour.

As Joseph notes in “Lane Boy,” the duo is most alive when it plays shows. “Blurryface” itself was written on tour and influenced by live performance.

I first heard Twenty One Pilots when they opened for AWOLNATION and MGMT — which were outperformed by Joseph and Dun.

Their energy on stage is unparalleled, and the beats Dun drops in “Blurryface” behoove listeners to move and sing with the crowd.

Though I missed some of the lyrical depth offered by “Vessel,” its successor had me shimmying beneath my covers, whether it be to the drum beat, ukulele, keyboard or synthesizer.

“Blurryface” is capped off by the exquisite “Goner.”

In it, Joseph shines light on the titular blurry face, a mask of insecurity and self-doubt which he can be heard grappling with throughout.

So what if Twenty One Pilots had to produce a couple sellouts to reach the masses?

If themes such as those in “Blurryface” are the future of popular music, it will be a breath of fresh air.

Tori Ziege

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