Twenty One pilots “Trench” album breakdown


Twenty One Pilots “Trench” album cover

By: Andora June

     Twenty One Pilots, a band from Ohio, is coming back with their new album Trench, after a year of complete and utter silence, and a three year long gap from their hit album Blurryface hitting number one on billboard’s top 200 chart. They sold over 1.5 million copies sold in the U.S, won Album of the Year from the APMASs, and became the first album in this digital era to have every song RIAA certified.

     Kicking off the new album, Twenty One Pilots posted a video on Twitter of a half-opened eye inside of which had indiscernible images moving around. The next day, they posted a picture of the same eye fully opened, with a video of a horse running and people throwing flower petals off of a cliff side. Then, on July 11th, 2018 at 5am PT, they released their first single: “Jumpsuit” as a music video. They followed it up with tweets telling their fans about the music video, and then announcing an hour later that the album Trench was to be released October 5th. Within the two hours following this announcement, the band also announced that the Bandito tour would be taking place this fall, and then the second single of the album was also released.

     Over the next two months, they released the music video for “Nico and the Niners” and another single called “My Blood”. On October 5th the album Trench along with the music video to “My Blood”, a previous single, was released. The album was filled to the brim with amazing songs, telling their story of Trench.

     “Jumpsuit,” “Levitate” and “Nico and the Niners”  were released to build up on the Trench story line, following along with the universe, Dema, a metaphor for a mental headspace of the darkest thoughts in someone’s mind. “Jumpsuit” is showing that Tyler Joseph is moving on and is on the road to his recovery, while “Nico and the Niners” follows the storyline of Joseph trying to escape on his own, saved in the end. “Levitate” is tells how he might not want to be saved, or leave the mental place he has known for so long.  

     “Morph” is another song said to be about Tyler and his faith, and what would happen if he dies. He shares what it would be like in different versions of death. In the lyrics “above is a blind belief” is going to heaven, and dying naturally, where in “under is sword to sleeve” is referring to hell, if he takes himself. “Around is a scientific miracle”, would be dying in the hands of scientific experiments, “are we still in love” is him questioning his faith in God. “That’s when going under starts to take my wonder” is when he starts to thinking maybe hell isn’t so bad. In the final lyrics “i’ll morph into someone else” is telling that one day, maybe he’ll change his thought and perspective on this. These lyrics can also be taken as a feeling of dissociation with himself, in other lyrics “I’m just a ghost” can be related to being dissociated with oneself, while the beginning of the bridge the lyrics “lights they blink to me, transmitting things to me, ones and zeros, ergo this symphony, anybody listening? Ones and zeros, count to infinity, ones and zeros” could be matched with how a computer works, and how someone may feel, or where there mind wonders in a dissociative state. Another way to look at the bridge is when the(lina6r on twitter)  ones and zeros when converted to i’s and o’s which make up the binary code in binary characters as ASCII makes an anagram ‘tx be sxlent” which is the lights blinking to Tyler telling him to be silent. (ie. @chemicalbeat in twitter)

     “My Blood”, another single, was previously thought to be about Tyler’s brothers and them supporting and helping each other throughout childhood. After the music video was released, it shows that the meaning was more about him consciously creating an alter ego,  helping him live his life, after experiencing trauma as a young child.

     The next song, “Chlorine”, has several different meanings, but after reading different theories and listening to the song multiple times, it’s clear that the main message is about cleansing himself. Some people read the opening lyrics, “sippin on straight chlorine, let the vibe slide over me, this beat is a chemical”, as thoughts relating to suicide. However, it is more likely that it is describing his desire to cleanse himself; he’s hinting towards how writing music is like mentally cleansing his mind.

     “Smithereens” is no doubt a song about Tyler’s wife, Jenna, and how he would do anything for her to keep her safe. Track “Neon Gravestones” has a darker tone and talks about suicide – going into detail about how it’s unacceptable that this is often ignored, looked over, or even glorified. He talks about how in our day and age depression isn’t taken it seriously until someone actually does commit, and only then, after their death, they are talked about in glory, and praised for being so “brave”. In  the lines “He also hints at people doing it for attention,” which is in some cases true.

     In “The Hype” the song at first refers to feeling something wrong inside him and being unable to  tell exactly what. So he explains how he turns to music, but still can’t quite shake the feeling that something isn’t right.  When he refers to “The Hype” he is referring to a younger version of himself, which he stated in a past interview.The younger version of himself in his head, is telling him negative things, that he  had thought he had started to move on from, but is trying to not to believe what his mind is telling him, even though it’s trying to challenge him, and bring him down.

     “Cut My Lip” is a song that is steered towards “The Clique” which is the name of the fan base of the band. In the bridge lyrics, “I don’t mind at all, lean on my pride, lean on my pride, I’m a lion”  is addressing the Clique, telling them to lean on each other in times of need like a family, or like a pride of lions.

     A Bandito in the Dema universe, that has been previously talked about, are people who survived the Trench and got out alive, and are there to help others escape Dema, and the Trench, by hiding them from the Bishops, who are trying to send people back to Dema. The Bandito’s hide them by using yellow tape, also a color use to celebrate life, it is said that yellow hides you from the Bishops. “Bandito” the 11th track on the album is another song aimed toward the Clique, that otherwise not knowing any background, would be difficult to understand. In the song when discussing “the high road” it’s used to talk about being in between two places, which would be the Trench in the Dema universe. Between the city Dema, the dark places of one’s mind, and the highlands, the open area where someone has finally gone after they’ve escaped Dema and the Trench. It can also be taken as he could take a the highroad, a more risky and easy path, and be sent back to Dema city, or he could stay low and make it to the highlands.

     “Pet Cheetah” may sound like an odd song, but in all after understanding it, it really isn’t all that odd. In the start of the song it seems to be talking about writers block, and how he has been working on a song for “eight days straight, eight hours each” and still hasn’t written one line to a song, he continues to sing about how he sat there until he found his inspiration, and when he did, the words and beats kept flowing and he kept writing, and he’s using the cheetah as a representation of himself with his writing, and could also be referring to his keyboard, that is branded “Cheetah”.

      As some may think that “Legend” is a love song at first listen and not knowing an background on the artist, it is actually about Tylers grandpa passing. In the post corus it states “your a legend in my own mind, My middle name, my goodbye” is proving that this is about his grandfather, his grandfather’s name is Robert, along with this being Tyler’s middle name. In verse 1 it says  “you were here when I wrote this, but the masters and mixes, will take to long to finish to show you, I’m sorry I did not visit, did not know how to take it, when your eyes did not know me like I know you” This is hinting at Tyler started writing this song when his grandfather was alive but it took too long to write, and he regrets not visiting him more before his passing, for he was too afraid to see him after being diagnosed with alzheimer’s, and does not know Tyler as he used to. He goes on to sing about how he was a classic, and that he “wished she knew you”,  that can be taken as he wished that maybe his future child could have met him.

     In “Leave the city” the last track on this album, it is of course more of a sad, slower pace songs than the others, keeping the this theme, like any other Twenty One Pilots album, finishing the story of the Trench. Hinting that Tyler is losing, and the “Bishops” who run the city Dema know this, and that his internal battle is almost over. The bridge is telling how he knows that one day he’ll escape Dema, and the Trench and be free again, in his own world and not under Dema’s power any longer.




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