Typhoons by Royal Blood
The Brighton duo takes us on the dancefloor
Armed with a bass guitar and a drum kit, Royal Blood has made waves onto the British rock scene since their debut back in 2014. The band’s unique sound of Mike Kerr’s sludgy bass riffs and Ben Thatcher’s pounding percussions have dominated live shows and festivals, making them one of rock music’s most exciting new bands. Their first two albums are arguably some of the best rock albums to come out this past decade, 2014’s self-titled LP and 2017’s How Did We Get So Dark? showcased the band’s sheer power as a duo that was equal parts gritty and catchy.
This new album, however, switches things up. Following vocalist Mike Kerr’s choice to become sober, the band decided to brighten things up a bit and add a bit more colour into the mix. Opting for an album more suited for the dancefloor than a moshpit. Typhoons takes the band’s signature sound in a different direction full of bouncy groove that fits the album’s lyrical themes of finding the light within the darkness. It results in a project that will surely divide longtime fans with its less-aggressive sound but will satisfy the 4 year-long wait with its sharp and danceable production, despite its formulaic second half.
Kicking off with “Trouble’s Coming”, the four on the floor beat takes full control with its tight drumming and slinky basslines, a sound you’ll hear throughout the entire album. Kerr can hear his demons creeping up on him as he repeats on the funk-influenced chorus “I hear trouble coming, over and over again.” The apathetic disco party continues on “Oblivion”, a track about nearly facing one’s own personal hell highlighted by its glam rock-style production that almost makes you forget about the song’s darker themes.
The journey of fighting hedonism takes the form of a storm on the title track. “My thoughts becoming parasites, that live to keep me terrified. I tell myself I’ll be alright, typhoons keep on raging and I don’t know why.” Kerr says to himself on the bridge as he illustrates his struggles to the listener. “Who Needs Friends” looks at the negative influences of so-called friends, the track in particular sounds like a classic Royal Blood song with its sludgy bassline and slow tempo.
Things start to get spacey on tracks “Million and One” and “Limbo”. The former track is an ode to somebody for sticking around and helping the lead singer through his dilemma, it features the best outro of any song on the album with its vocoded vocals and chilling piano keys. “Limbo” looks at being stuck in a constant loop of one’s own self-destruction with lines like: “Wake up every morning, almost surprised I survived. Blood on the pillow, tears in my eyes. Slept in a murder scene last night”. The track is a mix of the band’s signature heavy bass work with a chorus rivaling any Bee Gees or ABBA song.
After this stellar start though, is where the album, unfortunately, starts to falter. With the exception of the album highlight “Boilermaker”, a longtime fan fave at live shows, the other tracks sound uninspired and bland. “Either You Want It” is a blatant Queens of the Stone Age ripoff straight down to its drumbeat and lyrics. “Mad Visions” and “Hold On” both sound like something from earlier on in the album with similar disco-rock production. Typhoons ends on a lesser note with “All We Have Is Now”. The generic piano ballad about realizing that nothing lasts forever that every other band has probably written about a million times before.
Despite my distaste for the album’s muddy second half, it thankfully does get saved by the album’s excellent first half with some of the band’s catchiest hooks and melodic production. Typhoons makes for one of Royal Blood’s most rhythmic projects with lyrical content of positive affirmations and changing one’s self to become a better person. Whether long-time fans will enjoy this change in sound, especially considering the dull second half of the album, is up for debate. Yet it’s a clear sign that the band will take their music wherever they want, and Typhoons is Royal Blood’s answer to that very statement.
Best Tracks: Trouble’s Coming, Oblivion, Typhoons, Who Needs Friends, Million and One, Limbo, Boilermaker.