Twenty One Pilots – More Than ‘Regional at Best’
February 20, 2012
Upon first listening to Twenty One Pilot’s sophomore album, “Regional at Best,” it doesn’t sound that great. Just another guy sitting at home with his computer, putting a beat on loop with some techno sounds over it and some goofy lyrics.
But then you suddenly catch yourself dancing along a little bit, and really listening, and you realize this album is so much more.
The combination of Tyler Joseph’s intelligent lyrics and Josh Dun’s unique and fun instrumentals (which are just as likely to cause you to dance as give you chills) give Twenty One Pilots their own sound in an industry where that’s becoming increasingly difficult to find.
Joseph and Dun, the duo that make up Twenty One Pilots, got their band name from the Arthur Miller play “All My Sons,” alluding to the 21 pilots who died as a result of a business man’s poor moral judgment.
On their website, Joseph states “I feel like we are all constantly encountering moral crossroads where the decisions that benefit the ‘now’ will have consequences down the road; but the decision that might seem tough and tolling right away will ultimately be more rewarding.”
The album’s second track, “Holding On To You,” begs the music industry for stronger, smarter lyrics – “When we gonna stop with it / Lyrics that mean nothing, we were gifted with thought / Is it time to move our feet to an introspective beat,” and the band manages to deliver just that.
“Regional at Best” relies heavily on techno-pop beats, with some auto-tuned vocals layered on top. While some of the vocals are sung, most are rapped, which was not Joseph’s intent.
After he began singing his lyrics, Joseph soon realized that there were too many words to get out as quickly as he needed to. “I then just started saying the words instead of singing them and quickly realized I was rapping,” he says on the band’s website. “Even I knew that was pretty much illegal for me to do,” he joked about being a white guy in a predominantly black genre.
Despite it being “illegal,” Joseph decided that rapping would have to do, after some prompting from his little brother, and the results are pretty fantastic on “Regional at Best.”
The album opens with “Guns for Hands,” a poppy, dance tune which delivers thoughtful lyrics masked behind a beat that’s easy to dance to – much like it’s difficult to realize how much one’s learning while having fun, it’s just as difficult to tell how much thinking one does while listening to this record.
“Car Radio,” one of the album’s more serious tracks, reflects upon the deep thinking that occurs while sitting in silence. After having his car radio stolen, Joseph finds himself contemplating some deep and frightening subjects in the daily doses of silence.
The rest of the album ranges from serious and emotional, such as “Anathema,” in which Joseph begs, “Haven’t you taken enough from me / Won’t you torture someone else’s sleep,” to the seemingly silly “Forest” in which he raps about the nonsense that can sometimes flood the mind.
Twenty One Pilots’ songs are true poetry – words that require deep thinking and dissection, which can have a million different meanings, depending on the person, the time of day and the weather.
While they aren’t currently touring outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, Twenty One Pilots’ two albums – their self titled debut “Twenty One Pilots” and sophomore record “Regional At Best,” can be purchased either through iTunes or on their website, twentyonepilots.com.