I’ve been listening to Twenty One Pilot’s new album, Blurryface, lately, as I have time around all the working and planning and reorganizing of my life that happens every summer. I first noticed the song “Stressed Out” somewhere on the internet, which also takes up a large portion of my summer life, by the way. Can I get an Amen?
The chorus caught me first, where it said “Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days/ When our mama sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.” And then the phrase “Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter” kinda made me laugh because it’s true. The bridge says:
We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money.”
Yeah. Sounds like my life.
But the thing that made me keep coming back was not just the lyrics that ring true for a college student with loans and jobs and fears coming out of her ears, but the blunt, exacting words that sing in a way nobody else — especially other Christian artists — seems to be able to sing. Tyler Joseph, the lead singer/rapper, holds nothing back in “Stressed Out” and the rest of Blurryface.
There’s a raw emotion in this music that comes from having nothing to lose, I think. Twenty One Pilots creates music that means something to them, not music that fits the radio-ready formula. It’s music that’s honest. Sometimes it’s so honest it hurts. There’s a line in “Stressed Out” that says “I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink/ But now I’m insecure and I care what people think/ My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think.” A line from “Doubt” states, rather matter-of-fact-ly:
Gnawing on the bishops, claw our way up their system,
Repeating simple phrases, someone holy insisted,
I want the markings made on my skin,
To mean something to me again,
Hope you haven’t left without me.
Tyler Joseph doesn’t claim to have even most of the answers. He does know some very good questions, though. He knows “the streets your walking down.” And he isn’t concerned about the people who tell him to “stay in your lane, boy.” The album, hitting every mood and genre, is worth sitting down and listening through. It’s a little non-conventional, but, as the one song reminds us, “Don’t trust a perfect person and don’t trust a song that’s flawless.” It’s easy for me to get tired of songs that spell out easy answers and have lyrics that I fully understand the first time around. This music takes time to delve into and understand, yet it rings true to my life, and probably can in yours, too.