Let’s go back to the old days
Scaled and Icy is the alternative pop band Twenty One Pilots’ sixth studio album, where its sound is more in tune with their earlier projects like Vessel and Blurryface. The American musical duo, from Columbus, Ohio, currently consists of lead vocalist/pianist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun.
Swapping out a darker take on alternative pop from their last album with a wide-eyed optimistic tone, Twenty One Pilots create a bright and playful record. Although Scaled and Icy doesn’t deliver a “hit after hit” effect as they did in the highlights of their career, it does showcase Joseph and Dun’s songwriting collaboration.
“Good Day” is a cheerful opening track as it proudly declares, “I’m alright, it’s a good day!” Both Joseph and Dun’s piano chords freely bounce together to create a tone reminiscent of tap-dancing at an amusement park. The next song, “Choker,” heavily incorporates the piano again, building from a graceful balladry to an unexpected rapping from Joseph in the bridge section.
Adding to the easy-breezy moments of Scaled and Icy, “Never Take It” and “The Outside” have their own fun appeal. Sounding like a modern interpretation of Stevie Wonder, Joseph is “vibing” over an R&B/Soul instrumental in “The Outside.” On the contrary, “Never Take It” serves as a statement piece for the album. This joyful rock track proves that Twenty One Pilots can indulge in traditional alternative rock if they wanted, with its heavy guitar outline.
“Shy Away,” the lead single of the album, is best described through its title. Given that it is the that mainly represents Scaled and Icy, it sounds as though the band played it safe with this track. The difference in its composition compared to the rest of the record creates one major flaw: inconsistency. The contradiction not only lies in this project but in the context of all their hit singles in the past decade that pack a lot more depth to them.
With its bizarre instrumental, “No Chances” falls a bit short, especially right before the emotional end of the album, “Redecorate.” The psychedelic beats in“No Chances” accompanied by a hard, manly choir would typically carry the most power in any project, but the feeling is surprisingly flat.
Overall, for true Twenty One Pilot fans who have been around since day one, Scaled and Icy is a suitable provider of comfort. The songwriting of Joseph and Dun fuels this project alone, more than the instrumentals their words sit on top of. The hard-hitting tracks redeem the minor dull moments throughout the album, making this one of their most dynamic projects to date.