Twenty One Pilots - Scaled And Icy (Livestream Version)
Scaling Back Is A Success For The Musical Duo
Back in May, Twenty One Pilots did their first virtual concert from the duo's hometown of Columbus. I wasn't there for the Livestream. But their recently dropped Livestream version of the new album Scaled And Icy makes me question my choice.
Scaled And Icy -the duo's 6th album - is a play on "scaled back and isolated." Lead singer Tyler Joseph stated during a Sirius XM interview that the phrase seemed fitting for the current Covid-19 pandemic. He wanted to reference the current climate, acknowledging the sense of isolation that was prevalent during the pandemic (and when the songs were written).
Right from the beginning, "Good Day" is a banger with a pleasantly retro feel. The simple, upbeat style pairs nicely with almost ironically modern lyrics. It feels almost like it could be the happy, sunshine vibes of the Monkees - except for Tyler Joseph declaring "homie just sued me." In any case, he assures us, it's still a "Good Day."
Similarly, "Saturday" has a different sort of retro aesthetic. It resembles a 70's dance floor beat. Once again, however, it's refreshed and updated. Nothing on this album feels like a copy of a copy of a copy of something you've already heard - though I have to admit this song made me wonder if Joseph is a Gorillaz fan.
"Never Take It" is another absolute smash. It reeks of early 00's alt-rock. Upbeat moral message, check. Clapped out beats, check. It pushes some heavy thoughts about our current political divisiveness, toxic environment, and decidedly un-critical thinking skills out there. But, they make the pill a little easier to swallow with some hot drums and heavy guitar riffs.
"Choker" sounds a bit more current, and more classically Twenty One Pilots. It's earnest and compelling, the stuff they're known for. It evokes the relatable emotions that made Twenty One Pilots stand out. After all, who doesn't like a "famous people, they're just like us" band?
But their knack to get just deep enough without becoming overwhelming is still very much on point. Overall, it stays relatively lighthearted, despite the vulnerability Tyler shows.
If you want the more "expected" Twenty One Pilots, it's not missing from the album - "No Chances" is one that no fan could object to. It's exactly the content the band promises, and delivers, for long-time listeners.
Other songs, like "The Outside" will almost certainly prove to be sleeper hits. It isn't until you're almost done with your first listen before you realize you want more. These are the songs you don't think much of at first, but then when it's over, you can't get it out of your head.
Overall, the album is well worth the listen. Even if you've heard the original Scaled And Icy, the Livestream album adds some extra content - like "Level of Concern," a standalone track from 2020.
Scaled back sounds about right for this album. Most of the songs feel like the duo made a concentrated effort to strip down. This is Joseph, singing his heart out as he promises at the beginning of the album. They simply follow their natural instincts as musicians here, no longer fighting to be heard or struggling to always be finding the next new thing.
This is Twenty One Pilots, calm and easy. In many ways, they go back to their roots - and by that, I mean roots that existed before even the band did. They're exploring what it takes to make music, at all, getting rid of a lot of the bells and whistles to focus on the craft.
What may have started as an experiment born of limitation is actually a success. I'm not sure about the "icy" part, because the album is fire. But "scaling back" paid off in dividends.
Jamie Dixon is a contributing writer here at The Pyrrhic. She's a content writer by profession, but this is more fun. She's also working on her first novel in her spare time.
Find her on Twitter @onegirloneblog
Want more of Jamie? Check out these: