Scaled And Icy
Twenty One Pilots
2021 • ROCK/ALTERNATIVE • Fueled By Ramen
Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots’ sixth record, Scaled And Icy, features the most mediocre songs of their career — it’s their weakest album to date.
In the last decade, streaming services gave several bands and musical groups the possibility to reach more and more people. Through playlists, algorithms, and ease of sharing, companies like Spotify and Apple Music made it possible for these artists to reach an audience that they would never reach through casual methods. Twenty One Pilots was one of these artists which ate from the exaggerated current of musical sharing that intensified mainly after 2015. The Ohio duo formed by Tyler Joseph e Josh Dun was successful thanks to their dark drunken alternative rock sound that also took them to the Grammy stage, where they go without pants. It was a golden moment, especially for the alternative.
But, what happens when all the trends and hype are over?
Scaled And Icy, Twenty One Pilots’ sixth record, is the answer for that. The record, which started to be recorded in 2019, seems like a desperate attempt to connect with the new trends since the ones you supported are no longer enough to make you successful. With that, the album is a messy project that doesn’t know which direction to go — something totally new or something totally old — and shallow since most of the songs, both in sound and lyrics, seem like a bunch of momentary things that were made in a hurry. In other words, in Scaled And Icy, Joseph and Dun are far away from what made them who they are and from something that could start another golden age in their career. It’s the insecure and unstable midpoint.
While Twenty One Pilots’ albums, over the years, had been presenting more and more songs that could be considered the best of their career, Scaled And Icy has the worst ones. Take “The Outside” for example. Although it has a better production on the instruments, it’s kinda forgettable and Tyler’s vocals feature electronic effects that were purposely made, however, in the end, sounded more like autotune, that they were trying to fix something in his voice and disguise it. Meanwhile, “Shy Away” loses its all potential since the sound of the track is simply flat. It has some nice 80’s video-game influences, however, this is not taken advantage of. But, now, imagine If Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez get together to make (another) catchy summer song, but now they are working around some influences from Dua Lipa’s discography. That’s basically what “Saturday” is.
But, there are some decent songs here. The opener, “Good Day,” although sounds kinda unfinished, has some interesting lyrics, showing Tyler singing about the denial stage of grief. He starts, “Lost my job, my wife and child,” and continues later, “I know it’s hard to believe me, it’s a good day.” On the other hand, “Mulberry Street” it’s the most pleasant on the record, mainly because of the hook, which sounds like something that The Beatles would sing — “Get out of our way, we’re moving sideways/Welcome to Mulberry Street.” However, the best song on the record is “Choker,” which shows Tyler in the position of a character that is afraid of losing his favorite people because he’s struggling and suffering from some things. On the hook, the best part, he sings, “I know it’s over/I was born a choker/Nobody’s comin’ for me.”
The rest of the record, in their turn, are just mediocre and you won’t remember them. While you have to strive to remember how “Never Take It” sounds, “Formidable” it’s nice and sweet but really simple and raw. “Bounce Man” looks like an attempt to re-read a children’s song and “Redecorate,” even though it features nice lyrics, it’s just… fine. Not even “No Chances,” with its darker and heavier sound and diabolic synthetic voice, ended up saving the final stretch of the record. “The past has never been this far and the future has never been so worrying.”