Recommended Tracks: Good Day, Never Take It, Formidable
Artists You May Like: Joywave, Bad Suns, The Band CAMINO
Fans who are somewhat aware of Twenty One Pilots probably look at the duo’s sixth studio album, Scaled And Icy, and think, “Oh, cool. A dragon! I get it.” It would seem like Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are truly just referencing a frozen reptile with that title, especially as the album cover features a giant, blue, fire-breathing dragon. But, of course, Tyler and Josh are not partial to obvious reveals; they like to keep people thinking and guessing. Fans who are more in the loop know there just has to be more to this narrative, and as it turns out, there is: “scaled and icy” is an amalgam for “clancy is dead” – Clancy being the main character of Twenty One Pilots’ previous album. Oh s**t, it just got real.
The past few months have definitely shown that the next chapter for Twenty One Pilots is a bit more colorful and playful than usual. We had solid pop singles like “Shy Away” and “Saturday,” as well as the optimistic “Choker,” which focused on the importance of accepting one’s self. These tunes were a refreshing departure from the darker, more anxiety-driven realms that the alternative duo is known for exploring in their songs, and showed how creative the two are in terms of mixing genres. In a year that brought much darkness and despair to the forefront, it made sense for the guys to lean into an album that serves as an escape from all of the turmoil going on outside, and fully dive into this splashier sound.
While those singles hinted at the musical direction Twenty One Pilots were taking, it was still a surprise to hear just how friendly the songs on Scaled And Icy sounded. The opening track, “Good Day,” for instance, utilizes soulful piano and the cadence of birds chirping, making it the perfect theme song for anyone waking up to a sunny day. There is also the anthemic “Never Take It” and the tropical summer sing-a-long, “Bounce Man,” whose warm guitar textures are enough to put anyone in a pleasant mood. Tyler and Josh have put out cheerful-sounding songs like these before, but you could tell that there was something new in the way these songs were created this time around – almost like the guys had new colors to paint with.
Most of the lyrics on the album, meanwhile, contain the “hopeful undertone” that played out on the guys’ third studio album, Vessel. It is clear that Tyler just wants to have a good time while he is singing, mentioning how he is straight up “vibing” while the kids keep their distance on “The Outside” or listening “for a song in the distance” on “Mulberry Street.” Yet, there are still a few fears and doubts that Tyler cannot fully pull away from, which comes through on the warm love song, “Formidable.” Singing to his one-year-old daughter, Rosie, Tyler mentions how she is “formidable” to him, and will be even more so in the future, but he still wants to be everywhere she goes. The optimism is enlightening, and makes us all want to make the best of the things that make us feel the worst.
Altogether, Scaled And Icy is not as prickly and cold as its name suggests. Sure, there are songs in there like “No Chances” and “Redecorate” that are more on the dismal side, but most of the album finds Twenty One Pilots in a good place. The songs are more extroverted and straightforward, but not totally commercial that fans would disapprove or feel detached from their favorite duo. Overall, Tyler and Josh have made a record that gives anyone who hears it an opportunity to not only run away from their demons, but to also escape to a place where they can feel safe and enjoy the view. It might not be your average cryptic Twenty One Pilots album, but that is exactly the point.
You can listen to Scaled And Icy on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.