Monday, February 18th, 2019

Twenty One Pilots – Chlorine

On our pop periodic table, “Chlorine” falls below “Neon,” “Titanium,” “Gold,” and even Foxygen


Katherine St Asaph: Straight chlorine is a gas, not a liquid, which should give you an idea of the level of fakedeep here. The production, though, is realdeep, more lush and orchestral than anything that has any business being given to Twenty One Pilots; toward the end, with the vocoder, it’s even sweeping a bit toward Daft Punk.

Alfred Soto: Leisurely, weird, and incomprehensible even to their swollen cult, “Chlorine” could be a Side B track from Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger. “This beat is a chemical” goes one line, but my favorite is, “The lead is terrible in flavor,” which, sure, is helpful advice. I mentioned Double Dee, but “Chlorine” is mutant un-disco comprised of parts ranging across decades and genres: perdedor Beck backbeat, Madonna latte rap, the sincere smooth tug of Chris Martin, still an influence on singers. To a degree I applaud Twenty One Pilots for essaying such a tuneful muddle. 

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Twenty One Pilots are as lame as previous Fueled By Ramen band Gym Class Heroes, and as beige as Trench-producer Paul Meany’s Mutemath, but they deserve far less flak than they receive. “Chlorine” is a five-minute, multi-suite “epic” that primarily falls short because the production transforms the whole thing into an indistinguishable grey slurry. From the twinkling piano to the dubby guitars to the cinematic strings, every instrument’s innate sonic qualities are dampened by an overarching sameness in sound. The clearest testament to this is the drums; it’s relatively unwavering in both beat and disposition, making every sequence feel like the song hasn’t developed.

Nortey Dowuona: Leaden, deadened bass synths with firefly synths and flat, barren drums bury Tyler’s limp croon under the mushroom horns.

Iris Xie: I just burst into giggles after the second verse started, because the contrast between the stone-faced hook and the psychedelic pop-lite of the warble with “Lovin’ what I’m tastin'” and the extra pitch up of the warble at the end after “tasting'” is hilarious, like gilding a lily and then setting it on fire because it’s made out of formaldehyde. And that decision continues haunting the song with that deadpan hook of “Sipping on straight chlorine.” This is a banal form of sadness. If this is supposed to be a song, could Rihanna just record this and add a sorely needed gravitas that could make people take this sad white boy song seriously (à la “Stay”)?

Thomas Inskeep: God, I wish 21P would go “sippin’ on straight chlorine.” Shame I can’t use it to clean my ears of this garbage.

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2 Responses to “Twenty One Pilots – Chlorine”

  1. JMK’s blurb is fantastic, even as I like the production a fair bit more than he did.

    I just don’t get why this is the single when “Morph” and “The Hype” exist.

  2. Thanks! This is a [4] or [6] depending on my mood. Kind of wish I went [6] after seeing the lower scores here.

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