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Twenty One Pilots’ “Clancy” is explorative and engaging

By: Erin Jones

Twenty One Pilots released their seventh studio album, “Clancy,” on Friday, May 24. This visual album is an expansion of their fifth album, “Trench,” which is also a visual album.


Twenty One Pilots is an alternative rock group composed of vocalist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. Twenty One Pilots found massive success after the release of their fourth album, “Blurryface,” which featured hit songs “Ride” and “Stressed Out.” Twenty One Pilots received three Grammy nominations after the release of this album, but only won the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Stressed Out.”


“Clancy” features four singles: “Overcompensate,” which was released on February 29; “Next Semester,” which was released on March 27; “Backslide,” which was released on April 25 and “The Craving (single version),” which was released on May 22. Because it is a visual album, every track on “Clancy” has a music video. The videos follow Clancy, played by Joseph, who is in the fictional and dystopian continent of Trench. "Clancy" features themes of escapism and desire as Clancy wants to breakaway from his current situation and yearns for a fresh start.


A major standout song on "Clancy" is “Overcompensate,” the first track of the album. It begins quietly, but the music quickly builds to welcome listeners “back to Trench." This song serves as Clancy's exposition; however, this isn't the first time Clancy has ever been introduced, as he is the main character of "Trench." Still, “Overcompensate” reintroduces listeners to Clancy, his motivations and his bold nature. It is a strong start to the album. Joseph’s vocals and Dun’s drumming create a combination that is both eerie and upbeat. This both establishes the dystopian tone of “Clancy” and invites listeners to stay in Trench. It is clear why this song has been dominating the alternative charts for months. “Overcompensate” is catchy and worth listening to.


Another high point of the album is “The Craving (Jenna’s Version).” It is significant because it heavily contrasts from the other tracks on “Clancy.” While “Clancy” is highly produced and focuses on Clancy’s struggles and desires, “The Craving (Jenna’s Version)” is an intimate, acoustic love song. The song is dedicated to Joseph’s wife. This version of the song is different from “The Craving (single version)” because in this version the guitar is more stripped-down. Instead of taking place in Trench, the music video features Joseph singing and strumming an acoustic guitar while videos the couple took of each other play on a screen behind him. “The Craving (Jenna’s Version)” breaks away from the major themes showcased in “Clancy.” Even though this song does not have the same action or excitement as the other tracks on the album, its strong display of Joseph’s emotions make it worth its stray from Trench. It is a beautiful and heartfelt song that is a highlight of the album. 


The final track of the album is “Paladin Strait.” It starts with only guitar behind the main vocals, but the music builds as the song progresses, with drums, synths and backing vocals joining in. The synths make the bridge sound like it is from M83’s 2011 album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.” In "Paladin Strait," Clancy details his travels across the Paladin Strait. It displays Clancy’s development, as instead of wishing for an escape like he does throughout this album, he is taking ownership of his life and fleaing from his current situation. “Paladin Strait” is almost six and a half minutes long, making it the longest song on “Clancy.” “Paladin Strait” is the only track without an official music video. A placeholder video was released the day the album dropped with an announcement stating the official music video will be released in early June. The song works well with the album’s structure. “Paladin Strait” parallels “Overcompensate.” It is a strong ending track to “Clancy” like “Overcompensate” is a strong opening track. While “Overcompensate” engages listeners and allures them to learn more about Clancy, “Paladin Strait” wraps up Clancy’s journey and makes listeners reflect on the album. This song is a satisfying ending to “Clancy.” I suggest giving “Paladin Strait” a listen and being on the lookout for the release of its music video.


I recommend not only listening to “Clancy,” but watching the entire album’s music videos to get the full experience. My favorite song from this album is “Next Semester.” I like that while the start of the song sounds like a Green Day or Blink-182 song, it shifts to slow down and become introspective, in true Twenty One Pilots fashion. My favorite music video from this album is “Lavish.” In the video, Joseph and Dun stand in front of store signs and road signs that match the lyrics they are singing. While it is simpler than many of the other music videos for this visual album, it is a fun concept and makes for a lighthearted music video. 


If you enjoy “Clancy,” Twenty One Pilots’ Clancy World Tour begins in August. 


Tracklist:

  1. Overcompensate

  2. Next Semester

  3. Backslide

  4. Midwest Indigo

  5. Routines In The Night

  6. Vignette

  7. The Craving (Jenna’s Version)

  8. Lavish

  9. Navigating

  10. Snap Back 

  11. Oldies Station

  12. At The Risk of Feeling Dumb

  13. Paladin Strait

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