Review Summary: Summaries are difficult to write, listening to this is not.
The smallest town in America is Buford, Wyoming. It sits on top of a hill and consists of a quaint little house and a surprisingly well cared for gas station. It has a vibrant population of 1 person. The man apparently packed all his belongings and moved to Buford to discover that everyone had left…Talk about awkward. Typhoon, on the other hand consists of 11 people, making it 11 times larger than Buford. On certain dates (large concerts, mass orgies, Christmas) they can be up to 21 times larger than Buford. They do not own a gas station. They do however have three guitarists, two violinist, two trumpeters, a keyboardist, a couple of trombonists, two fiddlers, two drummers, a suspicious guy who stands in the corner and shakes maracas’, and a variety of other musicians who have nothing better to do with their lives than join an ostensibly large indie folk band.
Of course, unlike 1-person towns, large indie bands are no longer the anomaly they used to be. Ranging anywhere from the pop band I’m From Barcelona, to the vast assembly of musicians used by Sufjan Stevens, if 11 member bands have ever been a gimmick, the gimmick has run stale. Typhoon, initially, doesn’t sound anything different from the formulaic indie orchestra either: With female back up singers; mass sing alongs, emotionally drenched strings, and celebratory horns splattered all over. The album even has the traditional intermission, and the short 1-minute gang-vocal medley just for masturbatory kicks
Although Typhoon does practice all the “used-to-be-awesome” cliché’s of the niche, this record is not a standard practice of popular conventions. Typhoon is a surprisingly mature band for its young age, and while it’s easy for records like this to feel bloated, Hunger And Thirst is everything but. Typhoon practices a great deal of restriction in these sets of songs, often trading in turgid joyful explosions for soul and discipline instead. There are many times in this album where all that is heard is the strumming of the acoustic guitar and restrained percussions. Don’t get me wrong, the climax’s are here, and every musician has apt opportunities to play, but the peaks are often short and to the point, wasting no time in delivering their purpose and fading away.
Let’s not be misunderstood here, when I say “restricted” I by no means am saying that Typhoon is just “***ing lame”. On the contrary, the song “White Liars” has enough Latino flavor to propel you to invade a small Spanish speaking country. And have you ever heard 21 people sing at once in a folk song" It’s legitimately the coolest thing since Sufjan Stevens decided he wasn’t ***ing around. “Body Of Love” might have as much Tiger Blood as Charlie Sheen does (whatever that means). And proclaiming “I want to live but I don’t want to live” with lead singer, Kyle Morton, will make you feel like that tortured hero you always wanted to feel like. Not to mention that when it comes down to it, Kyle Morton would be downright captivating if it was just him and a guitar. The fact that he has 20 musicians behind him, well not even a supersized McDonald's value meal beats that.
The album does have its weak spots. “Happy People” in particular, while pleasant, is just not a memorable song. And yes, despite the restrictive nature being a positive overall, there are times when you wish the album were just a touch more bombastic. But in the end, Hunger and Thirst is a promising record from a ridiculously promising band. Which is a lot more than I can say for that ***ty town of Buford.