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Twenty One Pilots: Entrenched in one’s thoughts

Twenty One Pilots’ newest album titled “Trench” features a variety of songs with metaphors on the difficulties of struggling with mental health littered throughout the lyrics. This album marks the first collection of songs Twenty One Pilots has released after returning from their year-long break. The songs combine the ability to explore challenging subjects while still creating music that is pleasing to one’s ear and stimulates dopamine hormones.

The songs on the album illustrate the thoughts and actions of individuals dealing with mental health issues, and specifically highlight lead vocalist and songwriter Tyler Joseph’s experiences with depression and the profound thoughts that one has about what happens after death or how to deal with suicide.

The entire album is set in the city of Dema, a metaphorical city used to represent the state of depression. The songs introduce Tyler Joseph’s alter ego, Clancy, who must escape from the city. There are nine bishops present in the city that oppose Clancy on his quest to leave Dema or literally recover from his depressive state. The bishops represent the negative thoughts present in his head that cause him to constantly feel despair. Clancy wears a yellow jumpsuit because it is the only color that disguises him and allows him to remain hidden from the bishops.

The album begins with an energetic beat and passionate bass guitar riffs in “Jumpsuit” coupled with soft vocals that build into an aggressive tone in which Tyler screams the words “Jumpsuit, jumpsuit, cover me!” This song describes the manner in which Clancy uses the yellow jumpsuit to hide from the bishops. Clancy’s act of hiding from the bishops parallels the method in which Tyler attempts to conceal his dark thoughts. Yet, on a literal level, it is not that easy to hide from one’s depressive thoughts, which is illustrated through the manner in which Tyler’s voice crescendos from normal volume to an eventual scream in an attempt to escape his depressive thoughts. This attempt is futile; while Clancy may be able to hide from the bishops using his jumpsuit, Tyler is unable to hide from the dark thoughts present in his mind.

The energetic beat continues in “Levitate.” However, now Tyler shifts to rapping to imitate the manner in which thoughts constantly flood his head as a result of having anxiety and depression. Furthermore, the song begins with the chorus and then moves onto the bridge, then the verse, and eventually reverts back to the chorus, which is not the traditional structure of a song. This altered song format illustrates the disordered nature of one’s thoughts when they are internally suffering. Phrases like “Oh, I know how to levitate up off my feet” and “ever since the seventh grade I learned to fire-breathe” display how, with anxiety, an individual’s imagination runs wild and they are unable to contain their thoughts.

The mood shifts in “Morph” to more of a pensive tone. The beat slows down and the harmonies create a smooth sound as Tyler speaks through the eyes of Clancy and ponders what would happen if he morphed into someone else in order to prevent himself from being captured. However, it is not that simple, as one cannot turn into someone else in order to avoid their inner depressive thoughts. The beat remains slow in “Chlorine,” in which Clancy describes the idea of ingesting chlorine. Although ingesting chlorine is clearly a horrible idea, in the eyes of Joseph, it is a better alternative to continuing on one’s path to darker thoughts.

The tone changes again in “Nico and the Niners” as Clancy thinks about the possibility of escaping the nine bishops who torment him. The song begins with rhythmic guitar riffs and an eventual beat that picks up. The song contains a hopeful tone as Joseph includes phrases such as “Dema don’t control us” and “I’m flying from a fire, from Nico and the Niners” displaying how Joseph longs to eventually overcome the depression he feels. The album ends with “Leave the City,” a soft ballad which continues to light a candle of hope in listeners’ minds. The song describes one’s departure from Dema, which translates to moving on from a depressive state. Phrases such as “[t]hey know that it’s almost over” and “[i]n time I will leave the city” display the hopeful nature of an eventual road to recovery from anxiety and depression.

Although “Trench” contains a variety of messages and emotions, in the end, Tyler Joseph desires for all of his listeners to overcome hardships that they have and continue moving forward in life.


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