Typhoon (USA-OR)
Sympathetic Magic


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jesper L. CONTRIBUTOR (57 Reviews)
January 29th, 2021 | 32 replies


Release Date: 01/22/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shimmering in the shadows

Three years ago, Typhoon released Offerings. The expansive, bombastic record showcased the band at their most ambitious, weaving a story set somewhere in between past and future, occasionally brushing the present, and covering desperation through the intimate lens of memory loss. The album hit like a ton of bricks upon release and has lost none of its impact over time. It invites listeners into a dark world that provides as much of an instantly enjoyable sonic endeavour as it does one which leaves its mysteries to be uncovered as time passes, reflecting its very themes in the listening experience. Now, without any announcements beforehand, the band have put out Sympathetic Magic. And it’s very good.

Of course, there is much more to the new album, but Typhoon were always going to have a hard time following up Offerings. How do you move on from something that massive, that impactful? Trying to go bigger would likely have resulted in something unnecessarily self-indulgent, and potentially boring. Instead, the band opted for quietly releasing Sympathetic Magic out of the blue: a gentle, relatively straightforward indie folk affair. It might just be the best move the band could have made (does surprise-releasing a more simplistic album following a, uh, prog folk masterpiece sound like a familiar shore to arrive at?), because, while it doesn’t reach previous heights, this album is a truly excellent foray into a more grounded apocalyptic world: one where, occasionally, beauty may be found in between the contrasted cracks.

The opening lines of ‘Sine Qua Nonentity’ display this slight change of pace right as the record takes its first breath. Instead of basking in the unreliability of fractured memories, vocalist Kyle Morton exclaims that ”You know what to look for”. This clarity is retained throughout the record, replacing uncertainty and dissociation with guaranteed bleakness. This results in some unexpectedly hilarious moments; inducing the kind of genuine, twisted laughter that can only erupt among collective gloom. ‘Empire Builder’ manages to follow up a violin-meets-guitar meltdown with wistful, deceptively bright chants of ”Everybody’s angry / Everybody’s lonely”. Typhoon tap into this odd brand of catchy again on the opening lines of ‘Masochist Ball’, where wishes of torture are delivered so earnestly it’s hard not to feel slightly confused. Thankfully, this sense of confusion is turned into a delightful one as the melodies ingrain themselves into your brain and the oddly cheerful horns kick in: ah, f*ck it, you might as well join the potentially misplaced despair and sing along.

Yet, Sympathetic Magic truly thrives off its ability to contrast the more unsettlingly ‘funny’ moments with ones of pure brightness and ominousness. ‘Two Birds’ is carried by an off-kilter rhythm, beautifully layered vocals and an overall eerie sensation that is contrasted with the soaring self-awareness of its lyricism. Morton explicitly indicates his uncertainty regarding the way ‘it’ feels, culminating in the statement that the pain can finally, truly be felt - without interference of failing memory or the delicate destruction of history. This clarity is complemented by Typhoon’s trademark violins, gorgeously intersecting with the complex guitar work and elevating the back half of the song. Elsewhere, the interlude ‘Santos’ should not be passed off as ‘merely an interlude’, as it pulls one of Sympathetic Magic’s hardest, most immediate punches. In 29 seconds, it describes the process of a small boy draining his blood into a washing machine: “How it made your blood clean / And put it all back in your tiny body”. The band seem to brush over the song and subject matter, leaving a terrifying snippet of the story to linger as the record continues.

The album’s best song, ‘Room Within the Room’, provides a similar contrast in a gorgeously shimmering shell. The guitars are gentle, floating on top of a calming haze, with Morton attempting to find beauty and hope within its claustrophobic framework. “Anything you needed / Anything at all / In the room within the room / I will be there with you”. It’s longing, it’s intense, elegantly inserting a sense of defeat into the simple, sweet sentiment. The song stands out because it differs in presentation while retaining a similar approach to the rest of Sympathetic Magic, without detracting from the overall experience. Rather impressively, it thus manages to highlight both the strengths of the entirety of the album as well as Typhoon’s ability to stun unexpectedly.

While Sympathetic Magic may have an incredibly hard time avoiding back-handed compliments and will likely always live in the shadows of Offerings, it should not be dismissed as a weak record. While the average song length may be a mere three minutes, the record intentionally takes less time to deliver its message. As such, it’s a more digestible affair, likely to draw listeners in with pleasant indie folk melodies before contrasting this with straightforward, unadulterated eeriness. As ‘Welcome to the Endgame’ finishes the record on another high note, it is evident that Typhoon have found clarity. This clarity may not be pretty, it may not be something anyone would ever wish for, but it is what we all have to deal with, and Sympathetic Magic handles it a whole lot better than most of us (could have hoped for).



Recent reviews by this author
Bathe Alone Last Looksnothing,nowhere. Trauma Factory
Teenage Wrist Earth Is A Black HoleLoathe (UK) The Things They Believe
Yu Su Yellow River BlueRadio Supernova Takaisin
user ratings (57)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2021


2521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

listen listen https://wearetyphoon.bandcamp.com/album/sympathetic-magic

Digging: Bathe Alone - Last Looks

Mythodea
January 29th 2021


5833 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

>It might just be the best move the band could have made (does surprise-releasing a more simplistic album following a, uh, prog folk masterpiece sound like a familiar shore to arrive at?



Nice one. Good review. Album feels like a mid-day summer nap.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2021


13509 Comments


Contrib bois on Fire.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2021


23622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My man ;)

Digging: Lost Horizons - In Quiet Moments

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2021


6984 Comments


I only listened to White Lighter but I vibed hard with it, might give this new babe a listen if am not too swamped

Digging: Booba - ULTRA

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2021


2521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks guys, and ty dewi for trusting me with this one haha :]

not to swamp you even more dedex but offerings is an essential listen imo

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2021


23622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Couldn't have done better myself Jesp.



And dedex for the love of Odín jam Offerings following the lyrics.

LunaticSoul
January 29th 2021


1634 Comments


Album is so heavy on the lyrics though man. I didn't expect lyrics to be this dark on a disc that sounds like this

In fact, it's actually what turns me off a bit. but it's not bad, but I don't think I'll love it

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2021


23622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Kyle is an incredible lyricist and one of the reasons I like this band so much.

LunaticSoul
January 29th 2021


1634 Comments


Generally, with this kind of music, I need to find a resonance in the lyrics which I can find on some - but thank fuck for me I'm not suicidal, haven't lost anybody dear recently and or have this kind of open wounds these guys seem to have

same thing happened on Kishi Bashi and other folk darlings of Sputnik, but that's the beauty of this kind of genre and the fact this kind of music exists is good for variety and any other type of ailments

also the reason I love spanish love songs' last one is because I have that type of malaise so for me those lyrics fucking hit home

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2021


23622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had family with Alzheimer and all I can say is that having that condition makes Offerings hit on a whole other level. "Algernon" specially, is brutal.

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2021


6988 Comments


great write up < 3

never got around to checking these guys, despite the hype that's surrounded them as of late

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 29th 2021


36754 Comments


Good review, you're on a roll. I need to catch up on 2021 releases.

Digging: Leon III - Antlers in Velvet

Gyromania
January 29th 2021


31910 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great album, but the mid section is considerably weaker than the rest. after we're in it (fantastic song) the album dips in quality and doesn't quite recovery until welcome to the endgame

Digging: Daniel Knox - Won't You Take Me With You

normaloctagon
January 29th 2021


4532 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review jesp



been intrigued by this band name every time i see it bump. going to have to check now

Digging: MF DOOM - Special Herbs: The Box Set

normaloctagon
January 29th 2021


4532 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rly liked this. could see it becoming a 4.5 w/ time

gotsthedewsdood
January 29th 2021


744 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

motion & thought wrecks me every time I hear it

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2021


2521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks all :]

glad you fw this norma, definitely check offerings as well (i am broken record)

Colton
January 29th 2021


8411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

great review, hoping this grows some more

Digging: The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy

Project
January 29th 2021


4656 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

really nice review Jesper



I do kinda agree with Gyro though, at least on my first few spins this really does run together a bit, but I'm sure it'll grow



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy