wed 23/06/2021

Album: Twenty One Pilots - Scaled and Icy | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Twenty One Pilots - Scaled and Icy

Album: Twenty One Pilots - Scaled and Icy

An arrestingly upbeat release from the minstrels of millennial angst

TØP: slaying the dragon?

If there's one songwriting technique Twenty One Pilots' Tyler Joseph has perfected over the years, it's the art of combining upbeat melodies with angst-ridden lyrics for maximum emotional impact.

The style appears throughout his band's work (and never more so than on 2015's multi-platinum Blurryface)Scaled and Icy takes the formula and pushes the "upbeat" to the limit. 

In a recent interview, Joseph describes his latest tunes as "shiny and colourful" with lyrics that "address some pretty heavy things". Rather than being worn down by life's setbacks, though, the emphasis is pushing through them. Scaled and Icy was recorded remotely during lockdown and, while the album doesn't specifically deal with the pandemic, Joseph clearly had post-Covid optimism on his mind.

Sometimes, the positivity is quite startling. The power-pop opener "Good Day", for instance, sounds like it could have been cooked up by Jeff Lynne of ELO. It's followed by the (slightly) more introverted indie-synth tracks, "Choker" and "Shy Away"; thereafter, the radio-friendliness resumes.

The album's middle section is pure gold. "Saturday" has hints of Daft Punk, while "Mulberry Street" is draped in a mix of Seventies soul and Eighties hip hop. Catchiest of all is "Never Take It", a rousing indie anthem the picks apart the culture wars. Only once do the good vibrations go too far: "Bounce Man", sounds perilously close to Bobby McFerrin's old sunsplash chestnut, "Don't Worry, Be Happy".

Then, right at the end, the album takes a sudden left turn. "No Chance" and "Redecorate" sit oddly with the rest, having a sinister, nervy quality that looks back to 2018's brooding concept album Trench. It makes you wonder what TØP's legions of devotees will make of the overall difference in style between the two albums. Many have already taken to internet forums searching for clues for how the new album fits into the sci-fi mythology of the last. 

I doubt this is the most fertile avenue of analysis. Scaled and Icy is essentially just a simple continuation of Joseph's earlier explorations of millennial angst. This time though, the emphasis has switched from alienation to positive thinking, making for some of the most awesomely direct and ebullient music he and fellow Pilot, Josh Dun have yet created. 

@russcoffey 

Some of the most awesomely direct and ebullient music Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have yet created

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters