- Ode To Sleep
- Holding On To You
- House Of Gold
- Car Radio
- The Run And Go
- Fake You Out
- Guns For Hands
- “Glowing Eyes” (originally on Regional at Best)
- “Kitchen Sink” (originally on Regional at Best)
- “Lovely” (originally on Regional at Best)
- “Forest” (originally on Regional at Best)
Every now and then, a song will reach out and grab onto me, and hold me so close that it’s the only thing that I can even think about. That happened last week with Fairly Local by twenty one pilots.
I heard it on TeamRock – in fact, they had it as one of their singles of the week – and it struck me immediately. Whilst I am largely a metal kid, there is a lot of room in my heart for other genres, and I am a big fan of dubstep, and drum n bass. I like drums, and I like bass, and I tend to be pretty easy-going about whichever format they choose to arrive in. Fairly Local had a dub edge to it, but it DIDN’T QUITE fully commit. I tracked it down on Youtube…and fell in love as soon as I saw the video.
On top of being a really good track, it turns out they’ve got a proper drummer (Josh Dun) and the singer (Tyler Joseph) looks a little bit like he comes from the dark side of life – both of which are things that are guaranteed to endear a band to me. I then went on a bit of a mission to check out what other songs of theirs I could find; it’s all really quite different musically, although they are still clearly not on the same page as everyone else, and there is a sense of humour that weaves its way through their videos.
The album that Fairly Local is from – Blurryface – isn’t out until May 2015, so I decided to backtrack and and get myself some of their earlier stuff. The first two self-released albums I haven’t been able to find physical copies of yet [and if I’m buying something damnit, I want to actually HAVE it] which left Vessel, their first release under Fueled by Ramen from January 2013.
I made the mistake of putting this on in the car – a mistake, because by the time I got to work, I was two tracks in and so intrigued that I wanted to sit and listen to the rest of it and see what it was going to do next.
This album is really well produced, well crafted, with a bright, fun, thumping sound. In fact, it sounds like bold colours, and American TV, and sunshine. The thing is though, when you refocus just behind the initial façade, there’s a young man, in the dark, pulling at his hair and howling.
Here there be demons… but no clichés, no angst, no attitude, no swagger. It just IS. I like it.
I can’t help it; however musically good they might be, I find myself rejecting on a gut level bands or artists who seem to celebrate being either victims, or arseholes. It always strikes me as being arrogant, childish, petulant, and I just can’t get behind it.
…yeah, because I’m such a fucking grown-up…
But anyway, there’s a level of simple honesty about twenty one pilots without any self-congratulation that really appeals to me, all layered in with some really splendid musicianship.
There are elements of stompy pop-folk, with ukelele’s and pianos, with switches from rap into well ranged vocals, all mixed in with beat shifts and tone changes everywhere. And it all works. The opening track, Ode to Sleep, cannot be described as anything other than schizophrenic… but as someone who has always had a rocky relationship with my brain at night, it’s also perfect.
There is no way that you could truly describe their sound as anything other than pop – extremely well crafted pop – but it’s also…NOT QUITE. It’s like looking at pop in a cracked mirror; it’s still there, bright and shiny, but also broken. I cannot help but wonder if the dark edge from the lyrics might push it a bit out of the reach of the usual pop afficionados. The 80’s were great for dark pop, but since then it’s all seemed to be a lot more self-promoting, defiant, materialistic – focused on what you HAVE more than who you ARE. I am honestly not sure where exactly twenty one pilots sits in that spectrum.
All I can say is that I really bloody like them, and I am properly excited about making the new album part of my life.