Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Twenty One Pilots – Jumpsuit

In a shocking development, we like Twenty One Pilots now…


Will Rivitz: I went to Warped Tour a few Saturdays ago for the first time since high school, and its most striking feature was its age composition. Gone were almost all of the emo teens and tweens, replaced by people my own age, people paying homage to the Tour in its last touring year. (I don’t think I’ve had an experience of cognitive dissonance recently quite as striking as chatting with an attendee fully decked out in mall-goth attire who, it turned out, was taking a day off from her Ph.D. research in the hard sciences to mosh.) Granted, this makes sense: the *extremely 23-year-old voice* Kids These Days don’t listen to what the Kids My Days listened to, and the nu-metal and post-hardcore offshoots I loved have been replaced. Hell, even the generation-defining label Fueled By Ramen has moved on: their most popular artists are now making ’80s-indebted misanthropic pop, NYT-acclaimed emo-rap, and whatever’s tickling Brendon Urie’s fancy at the moment. Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic — I’ve graduated college, moved out of my childhood home permanently to a new life on the opposite coast, and would love something to anchor myself — but “Jumpsuit” has hit me surprisingly hard. That an FBR outfit, and one as successful as Twenty One Pilots at that, would hew aggressively toward mid-aughts edgy melodrama is chicken soup for my forever-fifteen soul; that they do it quite so well is astounding. Twenty One Pilots has mastered the ebbs and flows of the Platonic-ideal glammy emo song, slow coast downwards into the bridge perfectly counterweighted by a roaring ending breakdown. Replace Tyler Joseph with Gerard Way, and I would have believed this was MCR at their peak. The bass tones ooze aggression, the distended guitars whip dust everywhere, and the subdued piano is, impossibly, somber and pompous without cascading over into full-blown cheese. Maybe it’s the song, maybe it’s the environment I’m in, and maybe it’s because I would never have expected the band who made “Car Radio” to make me believe their anguish, but everything clicks. Warped forever.

John Seroff: As far as aimless, dubby prog marching music for the disaffected goes, I kinda get it? Too bad I’ve aged out of the demo. Quick question for those who haven’t: is there a name for the (I think distinctly millennial) facial expression highlighted in the picture above? Kind of a half sneer, half goofy duckface; Desmin Borges is the exemplar? If there’s nothing better already out there, can we start calling it “jumpsuit face”?

Alfred Soto: I’m not sure what’s happening on this Clinic-Christopher Cross homage besides a flaunting of leaden intelligence, but it sure buzzes, infatuated with the fact that it sports one of 2018’s oddest hooks. One Direction fans were smarter.

Ian Mathers: Didn’t expect these guys to remind me so much of Phantogram (who I quite like), except with all the dials turned a bit more to “rock” and with a less compelling singer. Especially when he goes the quasi-screaming route; the clean singing fits the song better, and the climax feels effortful instead of cathartic. There are clearly some things going on under the surface, so it’s just as well the surface is this appealing.

Iain Mew: It’s going to be so good when Twenty One Pilots finally go properly “Knights of Cydonia” and don’t cop out halfway through with some screaming.

Matias Taylor: “I can’t believe how much I hate,” snarls Tyler Joseph about three minutes into Twenty One Pilots’s new single, as the anxiety and fear that had been bubbling under the track coil to an unbearable degree and then spring into a cacophony of screaming vocals and reverberating guitars. It turns out the jumpsuit metaphor (of the parachuter kind, seemingly) is apt; the whole song is an exercise in push-and-pull before it finally takes the leap and fully unleashes that monster riff. Most bands would call it a day after coming up with a hook that good, but Twenty One Pilots aren’t most bands, and they cut right through the skydiving and sky-aimed drums with the gorgeous bridge, which suggests the issue is really being afraid of leaving the ground. 

Hannah Jocelyn: When I initially heard “Jumpsuit,” I didn’t think it would see as much radio success as its counterpart “Nico and the Niners.” While “Jumpsuit” is on its way out of the Hot 100 as of this writing after three weeks, its success on the alternative charts is a pleasant surprise. In my SPIN write-up I struggled a bit with understanding the dense alternate-reality game accompanying their upcoming record Trench, but in a vacuum, “Jumpsuit” is fascinating. As slick as the production on “Stressed Out” was, the production here feels much more immersive. There are sonic details (a tremolat-ed reverb on the vocals, some Doppler effects on other vocals, some marginally Genesisian synths during the piano interlude) that make “Fairly Local” sound empty and dated in comparison.  Unfortunately, the high-concept shenanigans get in the way of emotional potency — the whole reason why they’ve garnered the fanbase they have was the earnest lyrics, however awkward they might be. Especially compared to early single “Holding On To You,” the unabashed dorkiness is missing; they won’t incorporate “Lean wit it, Rock wit it” anywhere on Trench. That also means there’s nothing here as honest as “Guns For Hands,” but it’s alright that the safety is on when they’re experimenting like this.

Reader average: [8.4] (5 votes)

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2 Responses to “Twenty One Pilots – Jumpsuit”

  1. I would love Alfred to unpack that Clinic reference, because I wish I heard it myself.

  2. I love will’s blurb here