A year. It has been a year since Twenty One Pilots’ (TOP) Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun went on hiatus. Three years since the release of their last studio album, “Blurryface.” After the release of “Blurryface,” with all songs gaining Gold status, they generated more recognition beyond the band’s previous experience. So, when they announced hiatus and had a year-long silence, people began anticipating another breakthrough album. The group not only delivered two concept songs from their forthcoming album that will turn not just heads but ears, they created it ambiguously for loyal fans.
On Wednesday July 11, the band released two singles from their upcoming album “Trench,” a music video, and tour dates starting this Fall. The two singles are titled “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners.” Both songs instrumentally stay true to the band’s popular style. But, Joseph told Alternative Press while still on tour, “Right now I think it would be a little less up-tempo than the last record. I would want to focus a little more on the lyrical content.” And that is why the background of the songs are essential for understanding this album’s direction.
The new releases, and possibly the album “Trench” as well, revolve around the story told during the hiatus on a website created by the band called Dema. I won’t go into extreme detail, that would take way too long, but I’ll layout a general overview.
Dema is a place surround by walls, with the only way out above. Nine bishops impose religious scrutiny on its people and don’t allow anyone to leave. When the website was first discovered we met Clancy who is stuck in Dema but is trying to escape. He writes journal style letters that are published on the site that document his frustration with Dema, hopes for escape, and final exit. Check out some of the evidence and messages here.
There was no doubt that the Clique, their fanbase, wouldn’t have discovered the site and been avid sleuths due to TOP having one of the most active and loyal fandoms in music today. There was no speculation as to what the cryptic messages meant for the new album or direction of the band during this past year, but with the release of these two new songs, including the music video, it was apparent TOP was singing loud and clear about Dema.
Why is it a “Must Listen?”
There should be no confusion if TOP appreciates every listener they generate. They of course do. But, it’s evident the Clique are the constant motivation and inspiration behind what they do and who they are. To understand the songs initially, one must have stuck with them through the hiatus and faced Dema themselves. (Not saying that a new listener can’t jump in and appreciate the story)! Both songs are lyrical masterpieces.
The first single, “Jumpsuit,” was released with a music video. The lyrics and video are definitely telling a story of attempted escape from the walls of Dema. Is it Clancy or Joseph himself? That is still up to debate. Joseph sings about feeling the pressures of this new place rolling his way. The chorus repeats, “Jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me,” referring to the article of clothing members wanting escape wear. While wearing this jumpsuit, it becomes harder for the bishops to find him.
In the bridge, Joseph sings, “I’ll be right there, but you’ll have to grab my throat and lift me in the air / If you need anyone, I’ll stop my plans, but you’ll have to tie me down and then break both my hands.” In the music video, this is where Joseph is led by a red-hooded figure back to the place of escape. This could be a reference to Blurryface, the adversary representing Joseph’s fears and insecurities. In the past, Joseph has described his hands and throat as sources for creating, demonstrating this during concerts by painting his hands and throat black. If those are taken away, he is defeat. The song ends with an attempted escape from Joseph.
The next single, “Nico and the Niners” shakes it up. The vibe of the song is highly reggae, accompanied by Joseph’s signature ukulele grooves. The hook repeats, “East is up, I’m fearless when I hear this on the low / East is up I’m careless when I wear my rebel clothes / East is up, when Bishops come together they will know that Dema don’t control us.” “East is up,” could be referring to the saying that rebels use when they try to escape, calling others who are similar. The last verse of the hook implies that when they survive, the Bishops will know that they couldn’t control the people in Dema, causing a deteriorating rule.
Now unlike “Jumpsuit,” verse two gives listeners a familiar Joseph-style rap verse. He says now is the time to escape, and further explains what those means could be. He ends by saying, “We’ll win, but not everyone will get out.” Joseph understands that in the end, some will win, but others will not find a way to flee. Whether this escape is from Dema or mental illnesses which Joseph writes about frequently, are both valid at this point.
Both songs are highly creative and give depth to the new album. “Trench” is the after effects of Blurryface and the next storyline. What fuels my love for this band is that rather than taking the popularity from “Blurryface” and writing with the aim to make more Billboard charting songs, Joseph and Dun created an album that stays true to their beliefs about intentional, raw lyrics and music. And I believe because of this, they still created songs that have no limitations of being chart-topping songs.
“Trench” will be released on October fifth, and you can watch the music video for “Jumpsuit” here. I recommend you listen to their other songs on streaming platforms, whether you are a fan or not, they are intriguing.
Stay tuned for the next Weekly Sound!
[Cover Photo from Press/Courtesy of NME]