Review Summary: Royal Blood find their (inner) Muse.
Let's get the obvious out of the way: Typhoons
is a generic, pop rock anthem, sealed, stamped and ready to fuel car, product and movie commercials. Yet, it finds Royal Blood in their more comfortable stance, definitely more so than on the identity crisis that was their sophomore record. Their sketchy attempt of easing their way into a mainstream vibe has finally kicked into gear and instead of playing the awkward middle child of rock and pop, they’ve grown into a confident, show-off bigger brother of disco.
Along with the album cover, the sound here is bathed in color. The unsure falsettos from How Did We Get So Dark?
are replaced by rich backing vocals. The timid keyboard from the previous album has better use here, driving the funky Limbo
along with its explosive riffs and accompanying the airy, low-key All We Have Is Now
to a calm close. Elsewhere, the album is packed with power: Oblivion
blends the robot rock of early Daft Punk, while Who Needs Friends?
marches with a jackhammer riff into an expansive chorus. The album’s true centerpiece however is Boilermaker
. Already a fan-favorite on its live introduction, the song blends their untamed debut album’s raw energy into this glittery cocktail. A cocktail which at the same time is no short of sour fillers: the extremely bland Either You Want It
and Hold On
are some of the most generic moments on the album, portraying cringe lyricism and dated riffage.
Luckily, for the most part, Mike Kerr’s lyrics partner the sound of sleazy disco-meets-desert rock quite well. In the wake of their last tour, the frontman felt burned out from the rock-n-roll excess and he documents his road to recovery from alcohol and drugs through moments of self-reflection and pep-talk: “…all these chemicals dancing through my veins, they don’t kill the cause, they just numb the pain” / “can’t live like this forever, running out of lifelines”. Gearing towards a more ‘euphoric, danceable and fun’ record allowed Kerr 'a license to be vulnerable, and confidence to be more revealing’, as he puts it. A polar opposite of Kerr however, is Ben Thatcher. While the singer is well in the groove, Thatcher appears at sea. The change in sound is partly the culprit, but considering his feral performances on the previous records, his presence here barely makes an impact apart from providing a steady beat to the flow. If the band were to progress this sound further, they need to find room for Thatcher to shine again.
, Royal Blood have settled into a somewhat of a sweet-spot: their steady transition from filthy stoner blues to mainstream rock is perhaps exactly what they needed. The journey however, was quite rocky (pun intended), and while far from perfect, the destination is a breath of fresh air, should you decide to open up to it.