One of the biggest breakout acts of 2016 has been Twenty One Pilots; they went on an arena tour, dominated radio with songs from their 2015 album Blurryface, and then scored an additional huge hit with “Heathens,” from the Suicide Squad soundtrack. They stand to win an armful of GRAMMYs in February: they’re nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (both for “Stressed Out“), as well as Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Song Written for Visual Media (all for “Heathens”).
And while the band may be “new” to some, they’ve actually been around for seven years so we decided to take a look back at Twenty One Pilots’ albums, with the help of one of their biggest fans.
Kenzie Marron, from Cleveland, Ohio, has been a fan since 2012. She’s seen over forty of the band’s live shows, and runs the Twenty One Pilots fan account @skeletonclique on Twitter (“with a few friends,” she notes).
“Twenty One Pilots has had a huge influence on my life,” she says. “Many of my best friends, I’ve met through their music. I don’t believe there are two more people more deserving of the success they’ve received this past year. I’m proud to call myself a fan of the band.”
But when we asked her to rank their four albums, it was more difficult than she’d anticipated. “Picking a favorite album is like picking a favorite child. They’re all so great and I love them all for different reasons. After a phone call to a close friend who has been a fan as long as I have, I was able sit down and really think about what order I would place these albums in.”
4. Blurryface (2015) – Perhaps not surprisingly, the longtime fans puts the breakthrough album in last place. Which isn’t to say she doesn’t love it! “Although I believe this is one of the greatest albums ever made, I had to place this as my number four. There’s still a personal connection with the music but the previous albums are just a bit stronger. This album deserves all the recognition that it has gotten, but I believe anyone who has only listened to this album should take a look back at some of their older tracks. All in all I do believe that production-wise, this is the best album.”
3. Vessel (2013) – “When I think of Twenty One Pilots, the first album that comes to mind is Vessel. It is a very upbeat album with dark undertones. They write songs that sound happy but have bigger meanings behind them. This album is where things really began to take off for them. The reason I place this at number three, is because half the tracks on here are reproduced from Regional at Best and I feel like the versions are a little more raw and I personally enjoy them more (except ‘Trees,’ God bless non-autotuned ‘Trees’).”
2. Twenty One Pilots (2009) – “The instrumental tracks on this album are phenomenal,” Kenzie enthuses. “The lyrics on are so simple and clean, yet they dig deep. You can hear the real raw emotion of Joseph’s voice throughout the whole album. I place this as my number two album, because I know that me, and many other fans, have used these songs to get through tough times. That’s why most people listen to music, to feel something.”
1. Regional at Best (2011) – “Regional at Best is the foundation for what Twenty One Pilots is today,” she says. “This album was how the boys were able to gain such a huge following organically. The shows grew larger and larger, and soon record labels flocked to see how the band was able to do this on their own.” It’s also the album that made Kenzie a fan. “On a personal level, this is the album that drew me in and made me such a big fan in the first place.” Unfortunately, the album is now out of print; original copies of Regional At Best now sell for thousands of dollars on eBay, although fans can stream it here.