Favorite Track: "Semi-Automatic" Least Favorite Track: "Screen"
For admittedly unfair reasons, I have never been a fan of Twenty One Pilots. I’ve listened to a few of their records over the years and didn’t particularly care for them and as a result for the longest time I’ve made fun of Twenty One Pilots, because honestly they are just easy to make fun of. However, every album and piece of music deserves a fair shot in the eyes of every listener and I tried to listen to Vessel as unbiased as I could of. Needless to say Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun surprised me. There are so many reasons and things to like about this record. For the most part it has this childish, cute, quality to it that makes it very hard to dislike but unfortunately, Vessel has just about as many reasons to dislike it as it does to enjoy it. At times Tyler Joseph can be so personable and it truly makes me want to enjoy this record but it’s flaws sometimes become too much to overlook. Conflicting sounds in individual tracks, particularly cringey and confusing bars, and off beat flows are only a few of my main issues with this record. The intro, Ode To Sleep is like a Twenty One Pilots attempt at a SICKO MODE or a Bohemian Rhapsody. The song is full of beat and tempo changes, unfortunately it doesn’t turn out as well as it’s contemporaries. The most enjoyable sections of the track are the electronic, pop, instrumentals opposed to the darker, harsher sections of the track which sound extremely forced. They are two completely uncomplimentary pieces of music that shouldn’t be morphed together especially with the production in which they have been. Holding on to you is an example of some of the cringey and annoying bars that take away from what could of been a decent Twenty One Pilots track. In this pre-chorus, outro, section Tyler repeatedly yells “is it time to move our feet to an introspective beat”, in the most annoying and unpleasant way. It detracts from a track that previously, however a little flavorless, could of been decent. Migraine on the contrary, has some pretty thoughtful flows and bars such as when Tyler laughs, “Sometimes to stay alive you gotta Kill your mind”. This and a few other bars give us an insight into his depressive mind and anxious headspace on not only this track but a few others on Vessel. The song after that, House of Gold features some light Ukulele strumming and pleasant, soft, cute instrumentals for the front half of the song. At the midway point we get these keys and piano that sound almost off beat as they don’t fit with the ukulele or the lyrics at all. I personally, didn’t really understand this choice instrumentally but the direction does flow into a pleasant back half of the song and outro. This track almost reminds me of a cute little song you would get out of an Adventure Time episode or another kids cartoon. Overall it was a cute track. I have mixed feelings about Car Radio. It starts with this deep, meaningful, monologue where you can really hear Tyler’s internal struggle as he vents about the wondering capabilities of his mind and how he wishes he could stop thinking. One line that stuck out to me personally was, “sometimes quiet is violent”. This track is so beautifully lyrically but then at the midway point it transitions into this almost full blown dubstep, electronic mix that makes no sense at all and ruins all the emotional tension and feeling the song had to it to begin with. It’s yet another confusing instrumental choice off Vessel that really drags down the potential of this record. A high point for me was Semi-Automatic. This electronic, catchy, hard hitting beat sticks in your head like glue. Not to mention, the hook on this song is EXPLOSIVE and makes you wana get up and dance around the room. It’s a great track. Unfortunately it’s followed by Screen. Screen was hard to digest for me personally. This is a prime example of lyrical choices that takes away all the personable feelings Tyler has going for him up until this point in the album. This songs beat is unmemorable and bland, but my real gripe with this song is some of the annoying, confusing, and irritating bars Tyler spits on Screen. For example, “My flows not great , I conversate, with people who know that if I flow on a song I’ll get no radio play”. First off Logically, how would having an element of your music be BETTER get you less radio plays? Secondly, that statement is arrogant as hell. It’s as if he’s saying “you aren’t on my level of intellect therefore you can’t conversate with me. I’ll go conversate with someone who understands that my raps don’t need flow to be good”. It sounds like something you would hear from some cocky prick of a kid on SoundCloud and not a best selling artist. Then he says “ while you’re doing fine, there’s some people and I, who have a really tough time getting through this life so excuse us as we sing to the sky”. He says that as if being happy or “doing fine” is a bad thing? He marginalizes people who are “doing fine” and asks them to “excuse me” as if they were going to object to people who are sad signing to the sky? Maybe I misunderstood these lines and if I did please explain them to me but the intent seems clear enough. It’s moments like these that make this record hard to digest for me. Vessel has some great moments and some awful moments but overall it’s a decently flawed project.