Album Review: blurryfaceWonkeyDude98 Mini-Description: In my sixth album review, I lie and actually review twenty øne piløts' sudden mature in sound -- and how it affects their self-awareness.
Best Songs: "HeavyDirtySoul", "Fairly Local", "Hometown", "Doubt", "Ride", "Tear In My Heart", "Goner", "The Judge", "Not Today", "Polarize"
Worst Song: "Stressed Out"
Hello everyone, and it's time to turn around and review the fourth studio album from indietronica duo twenty-øne piløts, titled blurryface. Now, this band has always fascinated me in many ways. From their Regional At Best and Vessel albums, even from a cursory glance, you can tell that they are a pretty strange group. While it's hard for me to say I disliked any song from either of those albums, they've always struck me as being early stages in Tyler and Josh's careers, when they weren't in very comfortable positions in them.
What I mean is that, well, they weren't very matured. As far as production went, the melodies were rather dated-sounding an'd often were too light in comparison to the pitch-dark subject matter (Car Radio, the best song on both albums, definitely NOTwithstanding). This is the reason I didn't like songs like Guns For Hands and Ode To Sleep as much as I wanted to. As for Tyler himself, he had a potent high range and quite a bit of charisma, but I found his rapping to be a bit awkward.
When I heard Stressed Out for the first time on the radio, I remember liking it but not really loving it, and when I heard about the blurryface album on YouTube and TheTopTens, I decided to check it out for myself. So....what did I find from this? Well....frankly, when I heard so many good things about this album, even I wasn't expecting this! I've had this record on repeat since January, and this is speaking for at least 10 of the 14 tracks here.
When I hold Regional at Best and Vessel to blurryface, the universal improvements are ridiculous! In particular, somehow in the course of two years, Tyler's vocal cords dropped like a rock, being much more matured and having a lot more range and depth. Although his louder tendencies are still present, such as towards the end of Fairly Local, the final chorus of Ride, the end of Doubt, the back half of Tear In My Heart, the second verse of Not Today, and most notably the crushing Goner, these tendencies are a lot more controlled and less frequent. While one could make the argument that it reduces the emotion of a lot of these songs, it makes them a lot smoother and more professional.
Speaking of smoothness, Tyler's rapping has improved near infinitely, to the point where it's basically a different rapper. His flow is smoother, sharper, cleaner, and fast. His rapping is much more comfortable on the new sounds he's given, which we'll get to in a minute. While Stressed Out didn't exactly blow me away with Tyler's flow, every other verse did. HeavyDirtySoul (probably my favorite song on the album), Message Man, Lane Boy, and Ride all show how much better he's gotten.
And on that note, let's talk about probably this record's strongest point: the instrumentation and production. Like I said, songs like Guns For Hands, Ode to Sleep, Holding Onto You, and even Car Radio had melodies that were pretty chintzy and lightweight, and when they were dark, they were DARK. It was hard before for them to find a balance between bouncy and heavy. This album, there were no problems.
Yes, Stressed Out was pretty cold and didn't stand out too much musically, and the beeping synth on the back half of Message Man wasn't great either, but other than these, nothing bugged me about the way this sounded. You have the pitch-black monstrous frigid descending crash of Fairly Local, the dark keyboards that open up the hefty Polarize, the ukelele that anchors We Don't Believe What's On TV and The Judge, the anthemic strings on Not Today, the upbeat piano-guitar-bass-whatever thing on the simple love song Tear In My Heart, the rattling wobble on HeavyDirtySoul that ends up bleeding into a perfect piano and groove, the reggae-inspired organs and guitar on Ride, the even more reggae-inspired fiddle and horns on Lane Boy that transform into a killer drum solo backed by those grand breakbeats that just dance out of the groove, the piano and oily meows on Doubt, the eerie outro of Message Man, and most prominently the deep synthpop of Hometown, with the fantastic piano, guitar, and THAT DROP.
And that takes us to the lyrics, probably the least improved area. But that isn't really blurryface's fault, it's just Vessel was a very dark-themed album that is pretty hard to top. And sadly, we need to get this album's weakest link, Stressed Out, out of the way yet again. It is quite fresh and detailed lyrically, talking about how Tyler dislikes his fame and craves childhood's simplicity, it's just compared to the rest of the album it doesn't compare much.
Now that we've gotten the depressing stuff out of the way, this is a hard record to bite into. twenty-øne piløts have always been self-aware about themselves, the music they make, and the industry, and that's more than apparent here. And I'll be honest, they do come on here with some pretty strong opinions. The epitome of this album's intentions is Lane Boy. It's a song that deals a lot with the pressure that Tyler is dealing with within society while trying to put his heart into his music and how he is conflicted between what he wants and what the public wants, and whether the same music that helped him out of dark times really means something.
We also have Fairly Local following behind it talking about how Tyler doubts himself and his actions, and then in the second verse starts to release him from himself and show some optimism until blurryface comes in and inserts even more doubt that by saying even with a change in beat (which has both a literal and figurative meaning), he still is worthless, which continues into Ride where he shows his own insecurities and tells of how he overthinks everything, and whether those little things we say really mean anything or are worth taking.
Then we have Tear In My Heart. I'm honestly surprised it sat as well as it did with fans, since they across the board prefer their darker, heavier themes. The simple, cute love song that's very competently written. In this song, Tyler very apparently is happy to have Jenna, someone who genuinely cares about him and loves him for who he is. It's not very complex, but it's smart and competent all the same.
We also have Doubt, which hits you like a sack of bricks in both its instrumental tone and lyrical structure. As someone who also liked How Much A Dollar Cost by Kendrick Lamar, while Doubt isn't as good, it's still a great, touching reconciliation with God, and how Tyler pleads "even when I doubt you, I'm no good without you", it's really deep. (Sidenote: I just love how Doubt was sung by Tyler as tribute to the late Christina Grimmie, as she covered it once. R.I.P. Christina, who inspired millions)
I could go on for DAYS as to why this record is so detailed and punchy, but I'll just leave it at this: blurryface is an album that deeply regards what we think. And, well, suffice to say it paid off! It sounds crazy, but I'm thinking a 10. If this is any indication, check it out. This is WonkeyDude98, signing out.
This was a great album! - ProPanda
This actually makes me want to listen to it. - Elina
I'm glad. - WonkeyDude98
Very good review. Detailed and all of the information is very well thought out. Ride and Doubt are my favorites. - JaysTop10List
Thanks! - WonkeyDude98
Same here! - ProPanda
Tear In My Heart is my favorite. I don't care how overrated it is or anything. It's awesome. - visitor
Honestly, it took a while to really grow on me. I see the appeal, it's just with an album with Ride, Doubt, Hometown, and Fairly Local, it's hard to stand out a lot. - WonkeyDude98
I can't believe I didn't mention just how bright this album is. It's so colorful and bubbly while being incredibly textured and weighted. It makes an album that's almost an hour long feel much shorter. - WonkeyDude98
So glad I rewrote this garbage. - WonkeyDude98