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twenty one pilots - Scaled And Icy

On Friday Twenty One Pilots made their return with the album ‘Scaled And Icy’. This album being the follow up to 2018’s Trench, there were a lot of high expectations surrounding this release. Twenty One Pilots are a band who rarely put something out that I don’t enjoy, and I think that they are one of the best bands in alternative music at the moment. That being said, you can never know what to expect from them and I knew this album would sound different to Trench.

Lead single ‘Shy Away’ is a song that I really enjoy and loved almost immediately. It was announced out of nowhere with the album announcement and took us all by surprise, but not having that build up towards it made it more exciting when it appeared in my email inbox. Even this was something different for the band as usually there are cryptic clues leading up to an announcement or a release. ‘Shy Away’ is infectious and repeatable, getting stuck in your head but not a song you get tired of quickly. It marks a slightly different sound of the band with more guitar and pop leaning melodies, but it still has some classic Twenty One Pilots elements, namely in Josh Dun’s drumming and Tyler Joseph’s lyrics and vocal performance. This is a fun song that will get you dancing, and was a good introduction to the rest of the album cycle.

‘Choker’ was the second song we heard from the album, and to me this song further cements the concept that runs through this album, or at least introduces it more to the fans who want to pay attention to the conceptual part of Twenty One Pilots music. I won’t be going into much of that today but maybe in the future I’ll write something on the concepts of each album as I think it’s super interesting. I really like the intro to ‘Choker’ with the drums and melodic piano, it sounds to me like the opening to a film sequence and I think the way it works in the music video is really good, though the video itself is on the stranger side, I’d still recommend giving it a watch as it gives more context to the albums concept.

Lyrically this song talks about being nervous and ‘choking’ before a big moment, which is interesting as that’s not a side we see a lot with this band as they always seem confident when performing or talking about their music, but this could be them opening up about their vulnerabilities and how they feel when not performing. Some have also said that it could be metaphorical and referencing back to a similar lyric in ‘Heavy Dirty Soul’ from ‘Blurryface’, which again is interesting as the aesthetics of this album are very different to that one.

Scaled And Icy is an album that might take a few listens to understand fully, though it’s full of really catchy songs, it didn’t leave me speechless like after listening to ‘Blurryface’ and ‘Trench’ for the first time. However, I do really enjoy this album and I think these songs mixed in with the older songs live will work really well. If you have listened to the album and weren’t sure about it, I would recommend giving it another listen, as it is one that grows.

Songs like Saturday, Never Take It and Formidable are among my favourites on this album, and I really love the added guitars here which is another new thing for the band as there have been no guitars on the other albums. I think it adds more dimension to the more rounded pop sound that we hear. Songs like Bounce Man and No Chances are possibly more classic sounding Twenty One Pilots songs, though No Chances is quite different to the other songs on this album, I think it ties everything together quite well before the last song Redecorate.

Aesthetically this album is a lot brighter and more ‘saturated’, and we have seen how each album is getting brighter and has different colour schemes and this seems to be the peak of that, though someone has said to me it’s a bit like ‘The Truman Show’ and maybe all this forced colour isn’t all what it seems, but that’s a conversation for another day. If anyone ever wants to talk about the concepts then feel free to comment on this post or send me a message, it would be great to talk to some of you about your thoughts on this album!

On Friday night, after the albums release Twenty One Pilots played the best livestream concert I’ve seen. There is so much I can say about this livestream, from the setlist to the concept, to the performance. This is why Twenty One Pilots are one of the best bands in music at the moment. They take everything to the next level. This livestream was more than just a performance, it was a show that could have just come straight from Broadway. It was also a show that played into the themes from the album and seamlessly transitioned into older songs.

The show had multiple different sets where the band performed and they moved between them all with different songs and costume changes, which was all done live.

The setlist for the show was:


Stressed Out



Holding On To You

Mulberry Street

Lane Boy (with Nico and the Niners and Redecorate)


Shy Away

The Outside




Heavy Dirty Soul


Level Of Concern


Car Radio

Never Take It

Choker (reprise)

The whole show was incredible but I loved how the new songs fit into the set so well and the livestream helped me understand the album better too. The set was created as a part of the fictional world Tyler Joseph has created for these albums and the people who live inside it, so it was really cool to see this visualised. There were also small interludes between some of the songs where the ‘presenters’ would sell the new album ‘Scaled And Icy’ but every time they would be more worn out or affected by the music. This was also the first time we’ve seen Twenty One Pilots performing with other musicians on stage.

The performances of Mulberry Street, Shy Away, Saturday, The Outside and Never Take It were possibly my favourite parts as it was hearing these songs for the first time but also the performance of these songs really stood out to me with the effort you could see had been put into making them. I can’t wait to see where this band heads next, and where the rest of this album cycle goes. I am still blown away by it all.

Listen to Scaled And Icy on Spotify here.

Buy Scaled And Icy here.

Follow twenty one pilots on Instagram here.

All After Midnight links here.

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