The name Twenty One Pilots doesn’t usually come with associations of upbeat summertime tunes, yet that’s the vibe many listeners are finding in their new album. Look a little closer though, and it becomes apparent that the meanings are deeper than what’s on the surface. A product of quarantine, Twenty One Pilots’ new album “Scaled and Icy” explores the emotions of coping with isolation and uncontrollable situations.
Each song of the album carries notes of fear and loneliness, but with a glimmer of hope and recovery. The first song, “Good Day,” is about celebrating the good days when you have them. Sure, the next day might bring something bad, but enjoy the now. Similarly, the song “Choker” is about someone who lets others walk all over him and gets hurt in the process. Despite this bleak onset, the track ends with an optimistic outlook as the narrator decides to tackle this low self-esteem and stand up for himself. The last song on the album, “Redecorate,” finds three different narrators approaching a depressing and uncontrollable end. Each of them decides the best thing they can do is clean up and redecorate; doing what they can to take control of their situations and what they leave behind.
This narrative thread of encouragement, taking control of a bad situation or enjoying a good one, is found throughout the tracks in this album. While each song is haunted by loneliness, depression or anxiety, each one also brings hope and optimism. Some may find the upbeat tunes in “Scaled and Icy” less impressive and distinctive when compared to the band’s previous work, but many also find that Twenty One Pilots’ messages and masterful lyrics more than make up for it.
While the album isn’t what fans usually expect from this musical duo, it still is in line with their emotional themes and lyrical style. “Scaled and Icy” shows that the band can remain genuine and expressive, while taking a positive note with their music. It may not be the message people look for from Twenty One Pilots, but it’s clear nonetheless: while darkness can be overwhelming, there’s also light to be found and enjoyed.