A punchy if sometimes mixed return...

On their sixth album, ‘Scaled and Icy’, Twenty One Pilots work through the anxiety, loneliness, boredom and doubt that made its home in hearts across the world during 2020, backdropped by a deceptively upbeat soundscape.

Beginning with the feel-good stylings of opening track 'Good Day', the album moves quickly into a selection of catchy electro-tinged tracks such as 'Choker', its earworm melody offset by the dark humour of the accompanying music video placing Josh Dun and Tyler Joseph in a toy store filled with magical realism, which feels like an escapist ode to the isolation from which the album was produced.

Following track 'The Outside', is an early highlight with its groovy synth-pop sonics -that previous track 'Shy Away', with its additional sprinkling of alt-rock establishes- moving seamlessly into the carefree mood built on newest single 'Saturday'. 

The album shifts into rock-tinged mood after this with guitar-led offerings such as 'Never Take It', 'Mulberry Street', and 'Formidable', of which only the latter stands out for the elements of synth weaving into the song.

Towards the tail-end of the 11-track production, the duo are clearly towards a strong finish from the sunny melody and catchy chorus of 'Bounce Man' to the signature hard-rock sounds of 'No Chances', with its anthemic yet foreboding soundscape that thrums with welcome chaos before closing track, 'Redecorate', which feels abrupt yet hypnotic with its electro-influences and easy-going vocal delivery and smooth rap verses that draws to soothing close led by soothing metronomes.

Despite the few forgettable moments in the middle, ‘Scaled And Icy’ remains mostly strong in terms of sonics and lyricism throughout, and though it does end all too quickly it is an impressively cohesive production that doesn’t reveal even for a single beat that it was the product of long-distance virtual sessions.

Overall, the album which was described by the band as one where they adopt a “more imaginative and bold approach to their songwriting,” achieves exactly with Twenty One Pilots seemingly delving into different arrangements that focus on making a collection of songs that meant to be remembered; and with the number of times most – though not all - of these tracks having you reaching for the replay button, memorable is definitely the word to describe the album.

7/10

Words: Malvika Padin

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