An unfocused, forgettable attempt to appeal to the masses
Mason Meyers
12:22 22nd May 2021

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The hype behind Twenty One Pilots' new album Scaled and Icy has been as gigantic as the blue dragon found throughout the promotional material; with theories linking back to the band's previous concept-album-outings a plenty. Unfortunately for us, Twenty One Pilots latest full-lengthisn’t the fully-fledged, impressive, groundbreaking concept album that fans had been hyping themselves up for. Instead, what we received is an unfocused, often forgettable, attempt to appeal to the masses with cutesy pop tunes. 

That isn’t to say that Scaled and Icy isn’t without its highlights. The opening single from the new colourful era, 'Shy Away', provides listeners with an earworm of a catchy pop-rock tune, with powerful shouted backing vocals designed to have listeners screaming along with every listen.

And the penultimate track 'No Chances' provides easily the most experimental and sonically impressive outing the Ohio boys have crafted to date. The pitch-shifted backing vocals act as a reference to the alter ego of frontman Tyler Joseph from the band's 2015 album Blurryface; this track is guaranteed to excite not only Twenty One Pilot’s diehards but fans of rock music everywhere.

Even the track 'Never Take It', which for the most part acts as filler for the album, involves catchy lyrics and a cheeky guitar solo to catch the attention of guitar music purists everywhere. It is just a shame that this track, like many others, are ruined by cringey, out of touch, and often self-indulgent lyrics like “taught myself to play guitar, tearing it up”.

The cringey lyrics, unfortunately, don’t stop there, with Joseph using Gen Z terms like “Low-Key” and “My Vibe” on tracks 'Good Day' and 'The Outside', as if the singer isn’t a 32-year-old father.

As flawed as Scaled and Icy is throughout its short runtime, and as annoyingly regressive it is musically, we find ourselves with a very chirpy, easily enjoyable album. Tyler Joseph's loved-up lyrical writing is nothing if not wholesome, and members of The Clique (Twenty One Pilots fan base), will love hearing songs about how much he loves his daughter Rosie and his wife, Jenna.

However, this sickly-sweet taste is likely to make general audiences feel a bit icky and will likely turn anyone who isn’t a lore-delving, lyric-analysing listener away. This isn’t new, however, Tyler has never been a man to shy away from confessing his undying love for family members or loved ones, so it is to be expected from a new release.

Scaled and Icy feels like a musical step back from the band's previous album Trench, an album that was drenched mind bending metaphors and dark poetic lyricism. This time the boys chose to sound more like their EP Regional at best rather than their more impressive recent releases.

The creation of the album over video calls from opposite sides of the country has resulted in drummer, Josh Dunn, being left without his usual crowd-pleasing drum parts. The only song he gets his chance to let his skin-smacking skills shine is on easily the bands worst song to date, 'Choker', where he is allowed to add some funky Hi-Hat action into the mix. 

Scaled and Icy is a generally boring and unimpressive listen. However, with an upcoming livestream show, and surely more music videos on the way to deepen the albums lore, it could become something adored by fans for more than just the unimpressive songs found on the album. 

Scaled and Icy is out now. 

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Photo: Press