Sunday, May 2, 2021

Review: Typhoons • Royal Blood



In a pre-release trailer, Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr described the duo’s third record better than anyone else could: “Typhoons is kind of about recognizing you can’t change the storm, and you can’t fight back against it. And it’s about outlasting it, and sitting in it, and waiting for it to pass.” With a career-infringing addiction in the rear view and a global pandemic teetering toward its hopeful resolution, Kerr might have crawled out soaking wet – but at least he could capture his endurance through a dance rock journal that adds some color and dimension to the duo’s music.

To fulfill the album’s mission, danceable intentions twist around the band’s established rock sound and launch it into a tailspin. Compared to the band’s previous two albums, their bass riffs have become less disruptive and more attune to rhythm – an important evolution for a group that frames up songs with only bass and drum studs. Animated bass work is the record’s crowning feature. It provides incredible texture to the title track – perhaps one of the most interesting here – and provides an aggressive groundwork for “Boilermaker,” a dizzying look into Kerr’s addiction: “Don’t put all your money on me, ‘cause you and me are two of a kind. Going in blind, I’m all mixed up,” he shoots through a clean falsetto.

The band has also learned the infectiousness of repetition: “Trouble’s Coming” and “Limbo” were given single treatments because they best capitalize on their own relentless melodic and lyrical loops. The strongest moments like these effortlessly breeze the band away from clear-cut rock and into a more progressive space. “Mad Visions” might pass as a Tame Impala track if its bass were swapped for some psychedelic synths; “Limbo” even closes on said synths. And at their least inspired, as on something like the half-hearted “Either You Want It” and the mid-tempo chore “Who Needs Friends,” they simply sound as if they’re resting on the same sounds in preparation for the album’s next outburst – and if that’s the worst they have to offer, I’d say they battled the storm just fine.

Typhoons is available now under Warner Records.

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© Aural Fixation
Maira Gall