Twenty One Pilots: Scaled and Icy review – genre lovers find what they are looking for | Pop and rock



In 2019, Twenty One Pilots became the first group in US history to have all the songs on two separate gold certified albums, for 2013 Ship and Blurryface from 2015. It’s an achievement suggesting a revolutionary cultural phenomenon, or at least a very good band. In fact, the Ohio duo specialize in an easily digestible but generally mundane porridge of rock, rap and synth-pop, their appealing but hardly unforgettable melodies. Aside from their approach to the vogue mix-and-match genre, it’s only their lyrics that offer a real clue to their huge popularity: the group’s outspoken dissection of emo-style mental health issues and vulnerability (“But now I’m not / And I care what people think ”, continues their biggest hit, Stress) is both persistent and fashionable.

Twenty One Pilots: Scaled and Icy album cover

And yet their sixth album moves away from this worried melancholy. Good Day is a twisted but effervescent slice of piano-pop reminiscent of the Beach Boys, Weezer and Mika in various ways; the hymn of the Saturday party could easily be a Maroon number 5; the cautiously hopeful Choker combines a nervous breakbeat with a sweet pop-punk. At this point, the duo have established a narrative and a mythology (the album title is an anagram of Clancy Is Dead, a reference to the protagonist of their previous album. Trench) intimate enough that diehard fans will see this change as a hard-earned hope after years of desperation. To the uninitiated this will seem like a pleasantly floating soundtrack, albeit clearly without USP, to a more universal anticipation of light at the end of a very long tunnel.

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