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Twenty One Pilots | Trench

The Ohio duo dish up a dystopian concept album for their fifth full-length.

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Fasten those belts and get those seat backs upright, people. You’ll need to be strapped in and paying attention if you want to make sense of Twenty One Pilots‘ high-flying disc Trench. The fifth album from the Ohio duo — singer and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun — is a complex concept album with a dystopian plotline that seems more prog than pop. The story pits a character named Clancy and some rebellious Banditos against the evil Nicolas Bourbaki and an oppressive council of nine red-robed bishops who rule the fictional walled city of Dema. There’s also something about yellow jumpsuits that render you invisible and may help you levitate, mental illness, a suicide attempt, and a pet cheetah named Jason Statham — some of which may be explained on a bizarre website full of cryptic documents and pictures that popped up earlier this summer. Confused? Don’t sweat it; you don’t actually need to memorize the mythology to appreciate the moody and eclectic Trench‘s strengths. Chief among them, as usual, is Joseph and Dun’s ability to fuse pop, synth-rock, rap, hip-hop, electronica, reggae and more into a distinctive hybrid — and then sweeten it with strong melodies, sharp hooks and evocatively tender vocals. All that accessibility definitely helps mitigate Trench‘s challenging lyrical density and moodier passages. Which in turn helps Twenty One Pilots stay grounded enough to keep the disc from crashing under its own weighty ambition and creative baggage. Welcome aboard.