Twenty One Pilots aren’t here for the pop game. When 2015’s Blurryface took off and produced two top five singles (along with their No. 2-peaking Suicide Squad offering “Heathens”), Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun became accidental pop stars, suburban weirdos whose incendiary, post-genre approach to alternative connected with far more misfits than anyone reasonably expected. Commercial records were set, monocles popped out, and Twenty One Pilots emerged from the Blurryface cycle improbable, yet unquestioned, superstars.
With the first two tracks shared from the big follow-up, Twenty One Pilots sound mystically unconcerned with following on that crossover success (though there’s a good chance Trench’s commercial figures do, anyway). Released today, twin singles “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners” register the high end of what one could have hoped for from the duo post-Blurryface: their aggressive experimentalism sharper, their clunky restlessness smoothed out.
“Jumpsuit” is a bass-driven dub stomper that ends with a screamy breakdown and “Nico and the Niners,” a paranoid reggae safari concluded by woozy, down-pitched vocals. This was a juncture where Twenty One Pilots could have leaned into a much more craven strain of radio dial reggae, basically re-written “Rude,” added some sirens or other TOP signifiers, and clinched the top spot whenever Spotify curates the playlist "2010s & Chillin." Or invented some Post Malone tendencies. Instead, the band that once warned against staying in your lane buckled down in the one it'd forged itself.
Twenty One Pilots are a mighty commercial force, but these songs just don’t sound like Top 40 radio standbys, at least not near the level of “Stressed Out” and “Ride.” Even with a radio edit, the pit-opening ending of “Jumpsuit” would still be hilariously jarring alongside “Mine” and “No Tears Left to Cry," and the lyrics of “Nico” (characters fleeing an evil, walled city, suggesting a plot which Trench supposedly expands on) are probably too arcane to sit well with pop program directors.
"Jumpsuit" is probably the stronger fit, even if its punkish texture has been largely missing from that world since Paramore, Fall Out Boy, AFI, and others occupied a small crossover space in the late '00s. At least one of these songs should find an extended home on alternative radio, which has been the band’s most natural fit since it signed with Fueled By Ramen in 2012. Two tracks off 2013’s Vessel went top 10 at alternative before Twenty One Pilots became a household name, and it’s likely to be the realm where Joseph and Dun are immortalized, whenever pop stops paying attention.
This news has been published by title Twenty One Pilots Sound Unconcerned With Pop Success On New Songs (Though \'Trench\' Might Be Huge Anyway)
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