Track Review: “Fairly Local” – Twenty One Pilots

“Fairly Local” and the music video are perfect compliments to what I believe Twenty One Pilots’ new album is going to be. Dark, unsettling, and just what the band needs.

First of all, let me quickly profess my love for Twenty One Pilots. I’ve been following them since the independent release of their self titled, seen them six times live, and own more merchandise than any one man should. I think that can qualify me as a fan. So naturally, when rumors began to swirl around about a new song being released today I was first ecstatic. I mean, it was the first new music the duo has released in two years. However, with any new release from a beloved band, there’s always some trepidation.

“Fairly Local” is definitely closer to a traditional rap song than any of their previous entries into the genre. However, it still maintains the dark lyrics that they have been known for, even if it’s on a different subject matter. While their first 3 albums focused solely on Joseph’s struggle with mental illness, among other unknown parts of his life, it looks as if this song, and possibly this album, if going to focus the on the duo’s new found fame and struggle to remain the local ohio band they began as.

The rapping sections of the song are stronger based on performance by Tyler. There is restraint to it. Similar to that restraint he shows in “Car Radio.” While lyrically it’s not his most impressive work, it definitely gets his point across. The more exciting part of the song is the bridge, which brings the true meaning forward in the catchy rap verse they perfected in Vessel. 

Now, I’d like to address the people commenting that the song is too different from their sound and that they’re selling out for something more mainstream.

I think that “Fairly Local” is the next step in the natural progression of the band. Their self titled was extremely stripped down and somber in tone. Regional at Best brought them to the sound most people are familiar with (the people who claim to be real fans but only listened to Vessel). It introduced the electronic element of their new sound and took a more upbeat approach to Tyler’s personally rooted lyrics. Vessel continued that, even taking songs from Regional at Best, however it also introduced more pop into the mix. Most songs had a hopeful conclusion and left the darkness to be buried in the catchy melodies. I think this is bringing them back to the darkness of the first album with the sound of Regional at Best.

From what I can interpret it’s about their struggle to stay the “local band” that they started out as while controlling ascent to the mainstream. Anyone can interpret it their own way, but saying they’re selling out is a completely uninformed opinion.

At one point in the song, and in the video, it breaks down to the familiar beep boop bops of more main stream rap with a synthetically lowered voice that raps about how “this song will never be on the radio.” This is Blurryface. This is the man who is torn to becoming that mainstream artist or staying local.

Tyler calls out to “the few, the proud, and the emotional” to interpret the song.

If you’re a real fan, then you’re the few, the proud, and the emotional and understand what Tyler is struggling with now. Just keep listening.

Blurryface will be released on May 19th and “Fairly Local” is available on iTunes

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