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Album review: Twenty One Pilots push limits, shine with ‘Vessel’

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Signing to a major label can be the kiss of death for many bands. But labels were unable to strip Twenty One Pilots of its odd Schizoid-pop style.

Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots released “Vessel,” its first album with Fueled By Ramen Records, on Tuesday.

Opening track “Ode To Sleep” begins with the dark, moody and almost frantically fast-paced rapping of Columbus’ own Joseph. Coming off a tour with pop rockers Neon Trees has taken an effect on the duo, though. Joseph’s vocals almost begin to sound like front man Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees. But as soon as you get used to the change, the beat switches up and he begins rapping again.

Lyrically, “Migraine” is the best track of the bunch. Joseph allows for a glimpse into the mind of a writer – and a troubled one at that. He sings, “Am I the only one I know / waging my wars behind my face and above my throat?”  

Unexpectedly acoustic, “House Of Gold” almost gets a bit folksy, and the band nailed it. Stuck into the beginning of the album, the acoustic-sounding track is an excellent display of the band’s wide range.

Following “House Of Gold” is the weaker song “Car Radio.” The slow piano backbeat throughout the majority of the song doesn’t match the quicker-paced lyrics and gives an unbalanced, awkward feel to the track.

“Semi-Automatic” made up for “Car Radio,” though. The distinct, synth-y beat makes you want to bob your head and the entire track sounds like a single, ready for the masses.  
Genre lines don’t seem to scare these two. A ukulele and piano beat backs up “Screen,” creating a beach-esque track. While the ukulele is successful, the sing along chorus at the end is not.

Joseph’s skills as a vocalist don’t truly shine until “Fake You Out.” He reaches higher octaves and pushes the limits of his rapping.

Twenty One Pilots falters a bit as it straddles genre lines with “Vessel,” and at times the tracks sound unconnected with only Joseph’s vocals tying them together. Despite the lack of continuity, the band’s debut album with Fueled by Ramen has revealed the band’s diverse abilities and talents.  

Grade: A-

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