Having vaulted to new heights with 2015’s Blurryface, followed by nearly two solid years of touring, twenty one pilots were in need of a break. Recorded primarily in the band’s Columbus, Ohio, studio during a yearlong public silence, their fifth album Trench picks up where the band left off in both sound and subject, exploring rugged emotional terrain in a style by turns cathartic and cryptic. If Blurryface was, as Tyler Joseph told Beats 1 host Zane Lowe, a “mirror” for his insecurities, Trench is a place where he could go to regain control—or, as he puts it on the tender, album-closing “Leave the City”: “But this year/though I’m far from home/In trench I’m not alone.” What continues to resonate is Joseph’s ability to turn his personal pain into shared experience, his inner dialogue into public art. “Surrounded and up against a wall,” he sings on the disco-ish “My Blood,” “I’ll shred ’em all and go with you.” Whoever he might be talking to (his fans, his wife, his friends), you get the sense the words double as a promise to himself. “I never would have turned to music if I didn’t feel like I need to change or cope with something,” he told Beats 1. “I was perfectly fine before music, and then something happened where I just felt a buildup of some sort. I didn’t know how to decompress that and to have an outlet for it—I was forced to learn how to play the piano.”

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