Review of Clancy (2024)

Last Updated 2024-06-17


The first single dropped while I was in Boston. I watched the MV in the lobby at the Museum of Fine Art. I cannot say a bad thing about the music.

Things that immediately caught my attention:

  • So the boys decided to start an entire album with German (I heard "diese kleine", "gemacht" and "wir glauben beide", but I couldn't figure out the rest until someone on Reddit transcribed it)
  • Interpolation of "Bandito" from Trench
  • First "real" line of song begins at 1:46 which, depending on your definition, may or may not make the intro even longer than in "Implicit Demand For Proof"
  • Tyler grins every time he sings the word "overcompensate"
  • His hand signs V on "twice" which is a classic trope all tøp fans recognize
  • On "by the time", he pretends to check his watch, alluding to the short published in 2022 titled "sometimes people ask what we do all day before the show starts." where he does the same

Left: Tyler sits on a couch and looks at his wrist; right: Tyler stands
in a red light and looks at his wrist

  • At the end, someone pulls off "Tyler"'s mask only to find another person. Tyler himself is actually far away from Dema, and the "Tyler" we saw throughout the video is just a citizen possessed by Tyler. The citizen has long hair and looks feminine, which is coherent with a fan theory (which I believe) that "Redecorate" from Scaled And Icy is about a transgender person.
  • Josh ordered his like 6th? 7th? 314th? custom drum kit from SJC??

Only problem I have is the youtube thumbnail. Look at Josh. Why he look like Elon Musk 😭😭😭

Josh in front of a projection screen and a line of text is projected
right on his lips

The album cover & meta things

The album cover was not well received. Lots of fans say they could do better. I agree. Just look at this.

Tyler and Josh, in black and white all blurry like crafty newpaper
cutouts, in front of a red/yellow

The art style is ok, and it's reminiscent of the low-res, dithered feel of their teasing website, It's fine if it's the style they're going for. After all it's the first time the boys put themselves on a record cover.

But I mean… at least give Josh more attention… like c'mon.

The album is set to drop May 17, which made me worried because if they tour right then over summer break I might miss it.

Next Semester

Haha! They're not touring until August, and the Detroit show is on September 29. I guess you could literally… (picks up acoustic guitar) wake me up when september ends 🥁🥁🥁

Anyway, a new single dropped titled "Next Semester" and incidentally that's when I'll go to their show. I received the newsletter halfway through a take-home exam, and I was unable to concentrate ever since.

The song is unexpectedly punk, a huge deflection from the hip-hop of "Overcompensate". The bass is punchy af and sounds straight from Mike Dirnt. The drumline is almost irresponsibly simple compared to "Overcompensate". It's un-Josh.

Snap, snap, snap — it's not a bad thing. Given the punk genre, this may be intentional. Allow me to go on a tangent about Radiohead.

Back when I was in love with The Bends and thought nothing could top it, I tried Kid A and, unexpectedly, it got me hooked in just three seconds. For context, The Bends is pure rock, and Kid A is pure electronic — synthesizers, drum machines, vocoders, etc. If Wikipedia is to be trusted, it's because Radiohead grew tired of rock.

You need dynamics in a song, you need dynamics in an album, and you need dynamics in your discography. To make "[genre] and [genre] only" is to become a machine. This is why I get bored of some albums by Linkin Park and Green Day. To be fair, I get bored with tracks #6-9 on Vessel sometimes, so I'm not as biased as you think.

Back to "Next Semester". Interesting things:

  • Tyler's bass is practically identical to mine; he's got a Fender P, probably charcoal gray, and I've got a Squier PJ in the same color. Great minds think alike
  • Despite probably intended to resonate with students, it did not resonate with me because I'm doing pretty ok this semester and am not contemplating suicide no thank you will check back when i need it



This is the most stressful part, to get tickets before they sell out, probably not into hands of real fans, but resellers who profit with an obscene margin. I hope they die.

Here's hoping my luck works out on April 2. I hope it's less than $100, but at this point it's not really about cost.

Brief intermission: end of semester

So I guess I wrote this on 2024-03-31:

  • Despite probably intended to resonate with students, it did not resonate with me because I'm doing pretty ok this semester and am not contemplating suicide no thank you will check back when i need it

This did not age well.

Later on, the triplet of EECS courses nearly killed me (see Winter 2024 wrapup). It's the most "Next Semester" moment, as this line repeated in my head:

Can't change what you've done
Start fresh next semester


Oddly poppy. Lots of Asian influences. Like the flutes in the verses and zither-like riff at the end. The zither, as Paul Meany revealed, was actually a chopped-up sample of the muted piano in another WIP track. He nailed the feel though.

Musically, there was nothing remarkable. Lyrically, there was nothing remarkable. Apparently the title "Backslide" has biblical origins, but I couldn't care less. What I assume it means is a relapse into some old bad habits.

In a line Tyler discussed how he regretted making "Saturday" on Scaled And Icy (2021). Back then he described it as a "bop" (it is). Poppiest song on the record, climax of chill-ness. I do not know the reason why he regrets it now, nor do I care. Artists change their minds, and set different standards, and I'm the victim of the inferiority complex that interferes with my music making.

Last year I made a song, This Song Will Uncure Your Depression. I never listen to it. The unhealthy tendency to compare my work to those produced in a studio has made it very hard for me to appreciate my own music. Because I made it, I know how far it is from what I wished it sounds like.

I wish some day I could be proud of a song I made.

The selling point of the song is its MV. Josh Dun directed it. It's part of the plan to shoot one MV for each one of the songs, set to be released on the same day of the album, which was a late decision that postponed the release date by a week.

I bet the boys are having fun coming up with all sorts of crazy shit. In "Backslide", Tyler bought bread buns, ate some, traded one for a cup of lemonade, littered all over the street while riding a bicycle, and got showered in rain and leaves. When he got home, Josh was grilling beef as Tyler dumped the bag of soggy bread on the pavement.

He is a menace to society.

The Craving (Single Version)

Love song for Jenna. Watched the MV but not sure who directed it.

Tyler strummed a few spicy chords on the ukulele, which reminds me of the "Trees" performance on the variety stream for Vessel's 10th anniversary.

Josh's drums, on the contrary, is always upbeat in Shy Away style. I was expecting a half-speed meter drop where the snare hits every other fourth instead of eighth, but it never happened. He just balling.

Apparently people are already spotting Clancy in record stores who did not remember the postponed release date. Good for them.

The reason behind the postponed date may have been Billie Eilish's Hit Me Hard And Soft.

Tangent: If I had a nickel every time an artist stylizes track titles in all caps and mentions the French word "vie", I'd have two.

Album dropped!

On 2024-05-24, the first thing I saw when I opened YouTube was the official audio for "Paladin Strait". I checked further, and all 13 tracks dropped. Living in UTC+8, I was hours ahead of the America folk.

But then I remembered that the music videos weren't out yet. So I waited until 11:45 when they began a music video premiere stream. I watched every one of them, although internet was kinda wacky and some were glitchy.

So, what's new?


Midwest Indigo

Another school-themed song about going home over winter break. I can confirm that winters in the midwest are, indeed, cold. The music video features Tyler skating on a frozen lake while playing bass. Josh, as usual, drums, also on the lake. I love how Tyler had to sit on the cargo bed of the pickup truck because Josh is in the cabin with his dog Jim in the passenger seat.

The synth is chiptune-ish. Vessel-like.

The drums are fast. I tapped on my metronome, and the backbeat (snare hit) comes at 116 bpm — even faster than "Shy Away" (96 bpm). It might be the fastest song in terms of drums, until I counted "We Don't Believe What's On T.V." (120 bpm).

Routines In The Night

Despite some fans' speculation that the song was about Jenna and Tyler's "routines", it's actually about bad dreams. I've had dreams where I killed my grandfather by accident and then I died, so it's relatable.

The piano outro reminds of me "Serendipity" by Vincent Rubinetti, from The Music of 3Blue1Brown.

The music video features Tyler and Josh roaming around in a house and performing in random rooms. They literally moved Josh's drums everywhere.


Finally, tøp wrote a song about zombies. I thought this was a MCR thing.

The "crash cymbal + kick four times" thing reminds me of "Whatsername" by Green Day.

Tyler's falsetto is amazing. The synth solo might be better if it was Tyler shredding his guitar, but I like the way it is given how cheesy and cliché guitar solos can sound.

No idea why Tyler felt the necessity to comment "denial" after "no no not me it's for a friend". It might be he's aware that he's in denial.

The video features Tyler sketching out Josh's face on the snow. Josh, as usual, drums.

The Craving (Jenna's Version)

The night before the album dropped, I had an unpleasant conversation with my parents, in which they talked about the struggles of maintaining their marriage, and it involved an outbreak of emotions. This conversation totally changed the vibe of the song.

The difference between Jenna's version and single version is that this one is acoustic, just Tyler and his baritone ukulele. And that made it even sadder. That also makes it the first completely drumless track since "Truce", the ending track on Vessel (2013), or the third of all time.

The video for the single version is Tyler decorating a bullet and Josh carving a wooden box for the bullet. They present them to a guy with a rifle, who misses the flying target. It's about work and devotion ending up in waste, which has a lot in common with my mom's words.

Jenna's version is just clips of her and Tyler on Josh's phone, taken over the years, probably before they had children.

The most sentimental track on the record.


"The Craving" sets a sensitive, mellow mood, and "Lavish" totally kills it. It is rumored that every band has at least one song about a luxurious lifestyle (cue P!ATD).

If you showed me the lyrics I'd be like, nah, no way it's tøp. Like what the fuck. These lines got me like 💀💀💀

Keep it cool, keep the mood androgynous
I see your problem is your proctologist
Got both hands on your shoulder while you're bottomless

This song has nothing to do with the lore. No way the bishops had a proctologist…

The video features the bois riding around town dressed in suits in a limo. I guess some dreams came true?

Tyler and Josh playing rock paper scissors by climbing out of the limo

Finally we know what's the sound at the beginning of the "Next Semester" video. The track sounds like retropop. The bridge acknowledges that everybody dies, which made me ponder for a while.

Similar to "Routines In The Night", Tyler is "navigating his head". I find it interesting that he used this metaphor twice.

The video is the one of the only two (except possibly Paladin Strait, we'll see) in lore. In a typical configuration, Tyler plays bass and Josh drums in front of a fire.

Snap Back

I'm sorry, but this is the weak track of the album. The meaning is clear though. It's about breaking a streak and losing progress, and references backslide. It's pessimistic.

It's the third time Tyler got a haircut in a music video ("Car Radio" and "Levitate" being the first two) and honestly he looks better before the haircut. Also, I can't really tell if he's clothed underneath his barber gown.

Oldies Station

It starts off like a happy commercial jingle, but the chorus and bridge hit hard. The track is about "pushing on through" depression and hardships. It's like a response to "Snap Back", only more optimistic.

Josh carrying PVC pipes while Tyler plays his

It's the second time Josh was coerced into forced labor for a video shoot. He had to constantly carry PVC pipes to keep the camera rig rolling on a plank for the video, and this one is thus his least favorite. The camera guy ended up falling down a cliff, and Josh just… drums over his dead body??

At The Risk Of Feeling Dumb

Starts off like circus music, but I feel it's the most serious song on the record. It tells you to check on your friends' mental health, no matter what they say — even at the risk of feeling dumb.

It's also the track that "sounds like them" and "feels like them". They spread a message, like "Neon Gravestones". The strongest track, and energetic as well.

The video features Josh drumming in the most random places. The album features Josh drumming in random places, sure, but out of 21 that I counted, this video has six (the last six):

Montage of Josh drumming in random places, including music hall, attic,
punk venue, road at night, frozen lake, road in day, bedroom, storage
room, living room, much smaller attic, bedroom, burning field, workshop,
field (not burning), snow (next to a dead body), a plank atop two
haypiles, roof, roof, steel beam over a road marked 12'-8", roof, on top
of the Hexion building downtown

One of my favorites.

Paladin Strait

Paladin Strait is a fictional place in the Dema lore. If you cross it, you reach freedom.

I expected a gentle drumbeat that gradually rises into the climax, just like the closing track "Leave The City" from Trench (2018), but it was upbeat and "Level Of Concern"-like. However, it only lasted two sections before the drums stopped, before catching on at a slower meter. Epic is the only word I had in mind. It reminds me of their closing track on shows, "Trees".

This is the longest song they have ever made, lasting 6:28, although one minute was just bird noises. (Even longer than "Taco Bell Saga" on Tyler's solo project, No Phun Intended (2008).) Not gonna spoil the song, but the plot twist at the end was bone chilling.


Clancy took elements from all the records they've made, yet sounds different from any of them. The departure is real.

Song structure

All the songs have a clear hook, and most have an "above-ground", danceable feel to it, as opposed to the deep, repressed, underground Trench sound. It feels like Clancy is finally out, free, chilling with the banditos.

Out of 13 songs, 5 begin with the chorus, which is supposed to be a reasonable amount compared to 4 out of 14 from Trench, but I just don't feel this way. I feel Clancy has a much stronger emphasis on the hook, or motifs, in every song. The good thing is they're coherent and short, and might get more radio time. The bad thing is the lack of structural diversity.

Notable "diverse" tracks on Trench:

  • "Levitate" is just nonstop rapping
  • "Chlorine" has an extra slower section at the end

Notable "diverse" tracks on Clancy:

  • "Overcompensate" has long intro and interpolates "Bandito"
  • "Paladin Strait" is made up of two parts

I was hoping for time changes and tempo changes, but all I got is a time change in "Overcompensate". "Oldies Station" seems to feature mixed 2/4 and 4/4 in the chorus though. Sadly, no odd time signatures.


Compared to prior albums, Clancy is very heavy on synth; the dominant example is the synth solo on "Vignette". I can imagine Paul Meany working day and night on these. As usual, Paul pulled an awesome job. When I saw his name in the "Producer" field I knew it can't be bad.

There was no crazy bass work that I know of, but that's fine. I can hardly hear any guitar; did Tyler even play it after SAI?


Another difference is their lyrics; it all started with Tyler's "Adidas track jacket". Tyler's gotten a lot more confident in bringing up specific brands, like Dom Pérignon and Kawasaki. It might be a hip hop reference, and I don't believe it suggests that tøp has grown more materialistic. Also I'm still not over the proctologist line how did it happen 💀

Clancy has very few explicitly in-lore tracks (Overcompensate, Paladin Strait, and if you count the MV, then Navigating), compared to Trench (Jumpsuit, Levitate, Morph, Neon Gravestones, NATN, Bandito, Leave The City). Makes sense since it's been 6 years since Trench and you can only make up so many stories about nine bishops and their wacky religion.

Track listing

I will die on this hill: swap "Vignette" and "The Craving". "The Craving" does not belong with "Lavish". You're at the verge of tears, guess what? Here's a song about banquets, champagne, and a dick up your bum. This is the single worst mistake.

On the plus side, I'm glad Tyler chose Jenna's version in favor of the single. Also, "Oldies Station" right after "Snap Back" is a nice touch.

Tier list

Here's a ranking of all 13 tracks, based on my scale. The standards are extremely high (or every song is S or A).

  • S tier: Overcompensate, At The Risk
  • A tier: Paladin Strait, The Craving, Oldies Station
  • B tier: Next Semester, Backslide, Midwest, Routines, Vignette, Navigating
  • C tier: Lavish, Snap Back

For reference, here's a ranking of some other songs on the same standard:

  • S tier: Morph, Car Radio, Ode To Sleep
  • A tier: My Blood, House Of Gold, Choker
  • B tier: The Hype, Guns For Hands, Message Man
  • C tier: Cut My Lip, Mulberry Street, Fake You Out


Rock sounds with hip hop and punk influences. Lyrics are more of personal introspection than there is lore. Unfortunately, Clancy did not surpass Trench, but it's a close contender. But as my music taste shifts, this might change.

On a scale of Trench, I'd say Clancy is 90% Trench.

Update: Alt tracklist

So, a couple days after the release, the band announced a special edition of the album called Digital Remains, which is a digital bundle with a PDF containing promotional images and working drafts of lyrics. On one of the images, an alternative tracklist can be seen:

Poster with track listing scribbled at the

The tracklist is as follows:

  1. Overcompensate
  2. Next Semester
  3. Backslide
  4. Navigating
  5. Routines In The Night
  6. The Craving
  7. Midwest Indigo
  8. Lavish
  9. Vignette
  10. At The Risk Of Feeling Dumb
  11. Snap Back
  12. Oldies Station
  13. Paladin Strait

With "Midwest Indigo" between "The Craving" and "Lavish", it eliminates the greatest flaw of the album. I created a playlist in this order, and it did sound better.


Similarities between "Paladin Strait" and "Taco Bell Saga":

  • Over six minutes long
  • Has a reprise
  • Contains the phrase "put … where my mouth is" (TB Saga: "I put my chalupas where my mouth is"; Paladin: "Put my money where my mouth is")