Tyler Joseph’s funny little friend is quite the creep, isn’t he? But ultimately, that’s the point of this remarkable little album.
Welcome back, my old friend! It has been awhile, hasn’t it? Well, pull up a chair, why don’t you? Sip some coffee or tea, enjoy yourself. Oh, the coffee is too hot? Well, no matter. I sure did miss you. It’s been 5…no, 5 ½ months since I last got to review an album. So, I decided it best to make my comeback with a real bang. No, I am not referring to my pretentious babbling seen here, but rather the album I should choose to mull over. The object in question is quite a gem. If you have heard this fascinating little record, you would understand that to be the case. If you have not had the privilege of jamming out to it, than you are in for a real treat!
The album I have chosen for today is none other than the Ohio based, indie due, Twenty One Pilots. They sure made some head waves with their record Vessel . It earned quite a following thanks to a unique blend of rap/rock/pop/folk music and rich lyrics. To say they missed the mark their third go around (Vessel was their second album) would be, well. . .quite repulsive, actually. For it is one of the finest albums I have had the pleasure of listening to in quite some time!
In enters Blurryface. Who is this strange fellow with an equally odd name? It is none other than lead singer’s (Tyler Joseph) fabrication of his own personal demons. So, what you’re saying is that this man has a figment of his imagination, or even a schizophrenic friend in whom he can blame his problems in life? Strange, right? Well, actually. While it seems a bit unusual, Tyler is not attempting to point self-blame where it does not belong, but rather to look in the mirror (James 1:23 much?) and point out some deep flaws he seems brewing. He has literally given a name (or a face) to half his mind; the half which is responsible for bringing him down each and every day. In this album, Tyler also is fighting the music industry, fair weathered fans, a checkered past, and above all, himself. You see, he has the brains to understand that most of his problems are all hinged on him and his own self-skepticism, desire for success, and personal lusts that he tends to feed on. Like I said, a bit unusual for sure. But let me give you a bit of information as to why this album works so splendidly.
With these in mind, we have to understand that this album is going to be filled to the brim with Tyler’s personal struggles and worries he has in life. He almost gives us a warning of that in the kick off single, Heavydirtysoul, but more on that later. We are introduced to Blurryface by name in Stressed Out; a fascinating song that deals with the problems of being a people pleaser. Not degrading an attempt to make people happy, but rather that your complete dedication is to seek approval from others, which is never healthy. Lane Boy also deals with this problem, but from the perspective of not letting others control how you live your life (or in Tyler’s case, how his standard of song writing should be handled). In Ride, Tyler seems to be out in search of the meaning of life. He admits he has been guilty of overthinking it at times, all the while attempting to help people along the way. Now, he just needs the truth to come out for his friend’s sake, as well as his own. Blurryface is definitely eluded throughout the album in various forms. Fairly Local seems to be a debate between his two mindsets as the negative has admitted self-defeat, while the positive won’t give up fighting till the bitter end. Polarize is about confronting and even making sense of one’s life that has gone haywire. Message Man warns others of taking Tyler’s words at face value, or even possibly the words of preachers or evangelists when it comes to the Words of Life (Yes, God is hinted at quite frequently). It advocates digging deeper and understanding life and the truth that comes with it. Also, we are given some nice and refreshing moments of happiness in Tear In My Heart (Which is a fun, witty, and sweet song dedicated to Tyler’s wife) and We Don’t Believe What’s On TV (Which seems to be saying that we must all rely on God for understanding). Neither of these two seem to ever mention Blurryface, coincidence? I would wager saying, “no. “
But even though the whole album shares some real insight into Tyler’s ongoing battle with Blurryface, I have personally found 4 separate songs that seem to reveal a fascinating progression that the album takes. Heavydirtysoul (the first song) is a warning of things to come in the album (as was previously mentioned), and a cry for help for that which he has done. The Judge (the first middle song of the album) is where he admits his faults, but is looking to one source of redemption (a judge who understands him, and is the only source of mercy). Doubt (the second middle song) where he admits he has been falling to the schemes of his own darkness once again, but pleads that though he may have his doubts, God will not abandon Him to his own faults. And finally, Goner (the last song) where he seems to be at the end of a heavy battle. He is tired, exhausted, discouraged, and feeling like he may have lost it all. But even in the end, he won’t admit defeat. Even when Blurryface seems to have won a battle, it is then that Tyler seems to find perspective and realize that he needs help in this ongoing battle. He may be tired, but he won’t give up. He will never give in! This conclusion song is also quite possibly the most epic finale to an album I have heard since Anberlin’s *Fin (which is my favorite song of all time). These 4 songs seem to be the pinnacle where the whole album hinges on, but more on this later.
All these fascinating and engrossing concepts are set to the background of some real captivating tunes. As was said, the boys at Twenty One Pilots are the epitome of unique. In fact, they are infamous for being impossible to put in a single genre. In this album alone, we can find the melodies of rap, pop, rock, screamo, electric, punk, somber piano ballades, reggae, and even Hawaiian ukulele. But don’t let that fact concern you. The many blends of styles and categories make for one mesmerizing record that is incredibly balanced, compelling, and flat out awesome! A few favorites (musically) are Stressed Out, The Judge, Polarize, and Goner. This album both fulfills as art and entertainment, and it would be criminal to overlook it.
As I said before, we would be looking to the important story being told about Blurryface later. Well, this is later, I suppose. What I find so interesting about the progression of Blurryface and his evil deeds is the fact that Tyler will never be rid of him. Even if times feel like the way of triumph, still he comes back to show his evil face. Why is this? Why can’t Tyler ever be rid of him? Because this is Tyler himself. He cannot run away from a life he has already led, nor a mind he has been waging war against his entire life. This truth is the same for you and I. Each and every one of us has inner demons that we will be fighting with till the day we die, that’s just how life goes. But what makes Tyler’s confessions so important is that even though he understands he will live with this burden till the end of his days, he will never stop fighting this unfortunate friend. Instead, he turns to the one place he will ever find hope and assurance of better days, the creator of his life. He knows if he continues to follow Him, and to surround himself by positivity, he will win this battle. The album may suffer a bit from over negativity (as well as what some may perceive as the use of the H word in The Judge. Though I personally find it being used appropriately about the next life), I find these aspects to be necessary plot points to the vision of Pilots masterpiece. Life will never be a walk in the park, and you will always have to fight the demons inside. But as Tyler has seemed to have done; he has looked in the mirror of truth (God’s Word – James 1:23), and has found a great need for help. So, instead of ignoring it (as most do), he has decided to fight it face on, even if it means fighting himself.