Paige Fulkerson dives deep into Twenty One Pilots latest record, Clancy.
Photo by Ashley Osborn

Clancy has been a long time coming from the band, Twenty One Pilots, one of which has been planned since the beginning of their 2015 album, Blurryface, by lead singer, Tyler Joseph. The evolution of the band’s music, albums and storyline has been such a joy to be a part of and I’m so lucky to have seen it all play out since 2015. Not only has the complex storyline progressed and come to an end, the band’s music has pushed all of their boundaries, somehow encapsulating sounds from each album before while creating something completely new, Clancy. The synthetic beat in “Midwest Indigo” is reminiscent of Vessel’s “Semi-Automatic” while “The Craving” is a continuation of Blurryface’s “Tear in My Heart.” While listening to “Lavish” and “Vignette” we find completely fresh beats and lyrics. The drumming is complex and simple with Josh Dun’s perfect pairing to Tyler’s vocals and lyrical genius (although I for one was disappointed to have been given another album without Josh’s vocals, but that’s personal). The album further follows Tyler’s struggle with depression: “Next Semester,” “Backslide,” “Vignette,” “Navigating” and “Snap Back” are the most direct to this approach. “Next Semester” and “Navigating” have a brand new bass and guitar pace that the band hasn’t quite picked up until now. Tyler seems to always pair his most intrusive thoughts into the most alternative fast-paced rhythms, much like in “Not Today.” While Blurryface has a special place in my heart, Clancy might very well be their best album. The band has truly outdone themselves and Clancy is both a beautiful continuation and conclusion to the Blurryface storyline.

“Midwest Indigo” has proven to be my favorite song of the album, more so with my favorite member of the band making a cameo in the music video, Jim Dun. The video additionally features Jenna Joseph pregnant with their first son, Tommy Joseph, and Josh’s brother, Jordan Dun. “Midwest Indigo” hits some sort of 80s pop synth sound before Josh’s upbeat drums chime in. The song stays upbeat while the lyrics refer to something so much darker. We hear a similar sound which we have heard previously in the 2018 album, Trench, before we fall into the chorus. I look forward to experiencing this song live, the lively beat is impossible not to dance to, sporting an upbeat pop sound, not seen since their 2021 album, Scaled and Icy

“Routines In The Night” is a bold continuation to the Clancy storyline, the music video is reminiscent of the “Fairly Local” video both in houses while Tyler sports Clancy’s red eyes. Tyler sits in front of eight robes signifying Nico and the Niners while the Bishop or possibly Nico himself can be seen lurking in the dark corner behind Josh as he drums. 

“Vignette” begins with a classical take followed by the beat of Tyler’s keys and Josh’s drums, clearly hearing the screech of a vulture as seen on the cover of Trench (meaning this song takes place in Trench). The song takes on a R&B pace with lowkey, low fye beats. The chorus picks up with the same beat as followed by the classical music. “Vignette,” in this song, is both literal and figurative; vignette being the darkness surrounding a frame, Tyler uses vignette as a figure for the darkness surrounding and taking up space in one’s mind. To fight off the vignette is to fight off anxieties, just as anxieties can take over, so can the vignette or perhaps they are one of the same. Tyler normally communicates with his audience through his songs, in this one specific song, Tyler says “denial” in a conversational way, a background voice that is speaking directly to us, an intimate and beautiful relationship that the band shares with its fans and listeners. 

“Lavish” is a truly brand-new sound from the band. The new sound is refreshing yet fits the band perfectly. It is exciting to see the band not only doing what their fans love but trying something that is so new and so progressive. “Lavish” additionally has my favorite music video of the album. Josh and Tyler are sporting lavish suits making their way through Columbus, Ohio, in their lavish limousine. Since the boys made a music video for each song of the album, we can see each music video with a humorous tone, Tyler and Josh simply being the best version of themselves enjoying each other’s company. Much like the music video for “Stressed Out” which highlights their friendship, “Lavish” directly references this music video with the lyrics; “sip a Capri Sun like it’s Dom Perignon,” while the boys continue their Capri Sun music video imagery. Is “Lavish” a reflection of where the band has come since releasing Blurryface’s single, “Stressed Out”? It is well known “Stressed Out” is what led the band to a global audience, does “Lavish” pay homage to their success from “Stressed Out” and how they are now able to live life lavishly?

“Navigating” seems to share sounds with “Next Semester” and “Midwest Indigo,” an 80s synth beat matched with an upbeat guitar and drum beat. “Navigating my head” refers to Tyler needing to navigate his head before he can navigate his life, how the anxious brain and intrusive thoughts can often become a priority, needing to be navigated before anything else. To have extra time, a delay in which to navigate the brain, is often needed for people with mental illness and to others, this can sometimes seem impossible to understand. The music video to the song is a continuation of the “Overcompensate” music video. You can see Josh, the torch bearer, navigating Tyler through Trench, through his mind, helping him along the way. Towards the end of the video both the audience and Tyler realize the torch bearer was never there for Tyler, Tyler instead finds himself meeting Josh at the end, meaning that Tyler navigated himself.

“Snap Back” seems as a sort of continuation to “Backslide,” not only referencing the song but referring to backsliding into a depressive state and the progress one made to happiness and stability has been lost unless one can snap back. “If I’m going to snap necks, I better snap back,” Tyler sings about snapping back to a depressive state, running from what once affected him at 17. The song tells of how pressure can truly tilt the scale of stability. I enjoy the slow-paced drums in this paired with Tyler’s dragged-out vocals while the music video happily gives fans a secondary “Car Radio” moment where Tyler shaves his head.  

“Oldies Station” is a more hopeful song about living, learning and loving. How life is constantly changing and how change should be embraced. We can see how far Tyler has come in this song, what he’s learned and what he has to give back to us. Twenty One Pilots has always been about staying alive, Tyler reminds us that we have to push on through to do so, and this song is a reminder of that. 

“Paladin Straight” begins with the classic Pilot’s beginning of Tyler on the ukulele, but with a different sound than what we’ve heard in previous albums. Twenty One Pilots often like to save the last spot on their album for their most heartbreaking songs, for Clancy, “Paladin Straight” holds this spot. In comparison to the concluding songs in the previous three albums, this song picks up in its pace, Josh’s drums slowly pick up into an upbeat song, a hopeful song. “Paladin Straight” is about the future and looking forward to what’s to come once you cross the “Paladin Straight,” once you stay alive. The song seems to fade with birds chirping before the ukulele and Tyler’s voice returns. When Tyler said he would be more clear with the storyline and the lore of this album, he wasn’t lying. Tyler ends the story. There is no speculation, the story has been told and ended. 

“On the ground are banditos, fighting while I find Nico. Even though I’m past the point of no return. Climb the top of the tower, “show yourself,” I yell louder, even though I’m past the point of no ret–” Tyler’s voice is interrupted by Clancy himself, “so few, so proud, so emotional. Hello, Clancy.” While it is unconfirmed whether Clancy, Blurryface or Nico is speaking, the voice references the line from “Fairly Local” being “the few, the proud, the emotional” which has become a staple to Twenty One Pilots, defining who we are as a fan base. The abbreviation for “the few, the proud, the emotional” being “FPE” can be found in several music videos and on merchandise worn by Tyler himself. 

Photo by Ashley Osborn

While it may be several more years before the band releases their next studio album, we can hope it will start with a new era and storyline. Luckily for us the band has given us four albums following the Blurryface and Clancy storyline in which we can listen to in the meantime. Not to mention their first three albums, Self Titled, Regional at Best and Vessel. Twenty One Pilots have created a beautiful discography with a beautiful, interactive storyline, one of which has never been done before. The Clancy World Tour will begin in August 2024 with two nights in Denver, Colorado, at the Ball Arena and end in May 2025 with a final two nights in London, UK, at The O2. This tour is not going to be one to miss, the boys put on a breathtaking show, bringing their music and story to life in a more intense and energetic way than able to give through the album. 

Photographer / Writer

Paige Fulkerson is a 35mm concert photographer and writer for Indie/Alt Magazine. Through Indie/Alt Mag, she expresses her unconditional love for live music and photography while learning and growing as she goes. Outside of Indie/Alt Mag,  she is a Journalism major with a concentration in Photojournalism and an Art minor at the University of Oregon. 🎞