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  • Cheyenne Johnson

Album Review: "Clancy" - Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots Cover Art

Photo Credits: Amazon

Three years after the release of Scaled And Icy, Twenty One Pilots is back with their seventh studio album, Clancy, expanding upon the extensive world-building fans have seen through the duo's previous work.


1. Overcompensate

2. Next Semester

3. Backslide

4. Midwest Indigo

5. Routines In The Night

6. Vignette

7. The Craving (Jenna's Version)

8. Lavish

9. Navigating

10. Snap Back

11. Oldies Station

12. At The Risk Of Feeling Dumb

13. Paladin Strait

Formed in 2009, Twenty One Pilots initially consisted of members Tyler Joseph, Nick Thomas, and Chris Salih. The latter two, Thomas and Salih, left the group in 2011, with Josh Dun joining shortly after. Since then, Twenty One Pilots have been a duo with Joseph and Dun masterfully executing their creative vision. Though they enjoyed much success in their early years, the release of Twenty One Pilots' fourth studio album, Blurryface, catapulted the pair into superstardom. The highly successful release earned the pair their first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and won them the honors of "Top Rock Album" and "Top Rock Artist" at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. They have gone on to achieve many accolades as well as develop quite the elaborate story through their music. Something the duo is notorious for, Twenty One Pilots weave plot points and references to their fictional world throughout their studio albums, serving as a parallel representation of Tyler Joseph's personal mental health struggles. Clancy does not break this tradition, telling the tale of the next phase in the group's lore.

Following the heavy use of commercial pop sounds on Scaled And Icy, fans find themselves returned to some of the familiar Twenty One Pilots characteristics they know and love on Clancy. "Overcompensate" starts the album off strong, sounding like a track that could've been ripped from Blurryface or Trench. The song starts with a mysterious, haunting piano melody, quickly launching into a synth-laden soundscape. Right from the beginning, Twenty One Pilots immerses fans back into the lore, making references to lyrics from the Trench track, "Bandito," and singing lines like "Welcome back to Trench."

Transitioning from the hard-hitting synth-pop/rock vibe of "Overcompensate," "Next Semester" switches things up with a punk inspired sound. The track keeps the momentum going, featuring fast-paced rhythms and pulse-pounding drums. "Backslide" comes next, mellowing Clancy out with chill beats and smooth melodies. Keeping in line with Twenty One Pilots' tradition of mixing genres, the duo tastefully blends elements of hip-hop, rap, and synth-pop throughout the song. "Midwest Indigo" follows with a light-hearted, upbeat sound reminiscent of previous songs like "Hometown" and "Shy Away." One of the catchiest songs on the album, "Routines In The Night" relaxes the pace of the album a bit, balancing Tyler Joseph's mental health battles with a casual, feel-good vibe. The track mixes elements of electro-pop, hip-hop, and commercial pop, being a bridge between the sounds present on Trench and Scaled And Icy.

Leaning heavily into the rap and hip-hop influences of the album, "Vignette" and "Lavish" feature several rapped verses from Joseph over a synth-laden backdrop. While "Vignette" doesn't stray too far from the duo's usual sound, "Lavish" was an interesting track to listen to, featuring soft melodies and lush strings that effectively conveyed the idea of a lavish lifestyle. Between those two songs is "The Craving (Jenna's Version)"—a starkly different sounding entry from the rest of Clancy. As a standalone song, "The Craving (Jenna's Version)" is beautiful, featuring a simplistic acoustic soundscape and Joseph's raw vocals. However, in the scheme of the whole album, it's such a shocking contrast to the full instrumentals that it breaks the trance Clancy creates.

Moving back to the heavier sounds on the album, Twenty One Pilots seamlessly combines synth-pop with alt-rock in "Navigating." The mental health-centric track shows Joseph grappling with difficult feelings over a background of relentless drums, rapid rhythms, '80s inspired synths, funky bass lines, and scorching guitar riffs. "Snap Back" cools things off again with a laid-back, hip-hop and rap influenced sound. The song's opening motif is reminiscent of Glass Animals' "Dreamland," giving it a playful essence to contrast the darker lyrics.

Staying soft and relaxed, "Oldies Station" comes next as a mid-tempo ballad with a positive message. Joseph seems to talk to Twenty One Pilots' younger fans, encouraging them to push through the difficulties of growing up. Quickly contrasting "Oldies Station," "At The Risk Of Feeling Dumb" pivots back to the album's hip-hop influenced sound, bouncing between rapped verses and belted choruses. A nod to the group's previous work, the track spices things up by adding reggae into the mix, giving it a sound reminiscent of songs like "Ride" and "Nico and the Niners." Serving as the conclusion to the album, "Paladin Strait" brings Clancy to a close with foreboding melodies, rich synths, and questions of survival. Possibly hinting at what's to come, the song abruptly cuts off and ends with a deep, slightly creepy voice delivering an equally odd message, stating, "So few, so proud, so emotional/Hello, Clancy."

Though not every song on the album will be a hit, Clancy brings fans back to the comfort of the familiar Twenty One Pilots sound so many have grown to adore. The release has been long-awaited since their last studio album and is a satisfying addition to their catalog, leaving everyone hungry for what's next from the eclectic duo. There's plenty to love on the album for the die-hard fan or the casual listener, whether you're here for the lore or simply here for the musical magic Joseph and Dun create. For those looking to immerse themselves further into the story told on Clancy, a playlist to the album's music videos can be found here.

Written By Cheyenne Johnson

*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.


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