January 08, 2013 - Fueled By Ramen
This review originally ran in AP 295.
The major-label debut by twenty | one | pilots traipses across electro-pop, hip-hop and classic pop music—and that’s just the first song. In the first two minutes of “Ode To Sleep,” the Columbus, Ohio, duo set the listener up with some eerie electronica, punched up by vocalist/keyboardist Tyler Joseph’s staccato rapping style, before launching into some breezy piano-pop that will make Ben Folds fans curl their toes. For the next 42 minutes, Joseph and drummer Josh Dun navigate everything from existential rave-hop (“Car Radio”), ukulele folk (“House Of Gold,” “Screen”), ’70s AM-radio sugar (“The Run And Go”), quirky techno-pop (“Fake You Out”) and somber balladry (“Truce”). Joseph has massive presence as both a singer and skilled MC, while Dun delivers velocity and/or groove, as necessary. And their songs just signed a long-term lease in your brain. In a world where products like Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber can have sincere think pieces written about them, this writer is grateful for twenty | one | pilots’ coruscating, Frankenstein-model pop music. Hold them close to your heart or shut up and suck on the culture you deserve.