Royal Blood | Typhoons
Warner Music | 4 out of 5 stars
Royal Blood (Mike Kerr, Bass, Vocals; Ben Thatcher, Drums, Percussion) have decided it’s time to take new styles for a spin on third LP Typhoons, and “Trouble’s Coming” is a solid opener for this new chapter. Timbres, rhythms, and melodic structures of funk, disco, synth-pop, and even a touch of R&B, are prominent on the 11-track record. Just two songs—“Boilermaker” and “Oblivion”—defer to the duo’s original, hardened, garage rock as their principal driving style. The former is imaginatively satisfying, as the drums retain a loose, live tone quality. This contrasts against Kerr’s vocals, which instead sound confined and somewhat dry, together evoking the atmosphere of intimate, rowdy shows from Royal Blood’s earlier years. Typhoons otherwise incorporates a wider tonal palette, bold background vocal presence, and rearranged sonic priorities.
Thatcher’s contributions are expanded, trading ferocity for electronic consistency on the title track and nodding to the gated snares of the ‘80s on “Million and One.” Stylistic approaches of artists like The Resistance-era Muse, Arctic Monkeys, and Daft Punk emerge on songs like “Limbo,” “All We Have Is Now,” and “Hold On,” respectively. The bass and synth-driven bridge in “Hold On” practically begs for a future remix or feature. Meanwhile, the doo-wop spirit in “Either You Want It” prompts a raised brow, but Kerr adopts an old-fashioned bad boy persona well.
Known for dynamically aggressive, rugged tonality and a staunchly black and white visual aesthetic, Royal Blood shifted gears and embraced a more polished sonic profile and neon color scheme for Typhoons, given that intensity and darkness reinforce its narratives in this album more zealously than its predecessors. From the bad omen of “Trouble’s Coming,” to “Limbo’s” denial, “Boilermaker’s” reckless spiraling, and the abandonment of conscience in “Mad Visions,” Typhoons can feel like a gauntlet of self-destruction. However, by choosing perseverance in “Hold On” and appreciating the present in the ballad finale, Typhoons reveals itself as fueled by far more than darkness: it’s a full arc of inner redemption.