Review Summary: Having resurrected rock and roll, Royal Blood kick it to death (again)
Credit where credit’s due, Typhoons
is rather catchy. “Trouble’s Coming”? Banger
. “Oblivion”? Absolute tune
, mate. “Either You Want It”? Well, it certainly has the good musical notes
. You get the gist, I'm sure: on their 3rd LP, British (ex-)rock duo, Royal Blood, have perfected the inoffensive ear-worm. With their bluesy, garage rock edges sanded down and the pursuit of artistry put on the back-burner, Typhoons
sees the band squeezing themselves into an increasingly generic (lucrative) mould, blending poppier, dancier, funkier sounds into their previously straight-shooting, overdriven sound. Once proclaimed as the saviours of rock and roll - in the UK, at the very least - Mike and Ben can be seen hurriedly stamping out the flames of that almost
revolution, following in the recent chart-topping footsteps of Muse and Imagine Dragons with woefully mixed results.
To avoid unjustly mischaracterising Royal Blood’s latest outing, let’s back up a sec. Typhoons
is, without a shadow of a doubt, quite fun. These words weren’t written reluctantly through gritted teeth, but rather with a bobbing head and tapping toes, such is the obvious appeal of the duo’s 2021 effort. “Boilermaker” is a veritable groove city, rekindling a hint of the spirit of the band's 2014 debut with its palpably punchy percussiveness, riding its massive lead riff all the way home. Boogie-er, woogie-er cuts “Limbo” and “Hold On” are equally engaging, weaving Daft Punk
style electronics within effervescent, funky refrains with admirable ease.
Even the record’s worst moments manage to worm their way into one’s noggin, as much as I’d rather they didn't - see the incessant one-chord mashing of “Who Needs Friends”, grating falsetto skwarking of “Mad Visions” and inescapable sing-a-long whoa-ing
on “Typhoons”. It’s not necessarily that Mike and Ben’s trip to the disco is, in and of itself, bad
- indeed, as characterless as lukewarm slow-burners “Million and One” and “All We Have Is Now” are, they’re still
more interesting than the confused self-parody of 2017’s How Did We Get So Dark?
. Rather, what’s frustrating is the way in which Typhoons
signals the less ambitious intentions of a band surely
destined for more
, such that its inconsistencies compound and shortcomings shine.
I’m not angry, Royal Blood, just disappointed. Perhaps it was premature to hope that the duo might be the ones to fight the good fight for the riff
, reigniting the reign of rock as the headlines so excitedly predicted, yet the eagerness with which they seem to have exchanged authenticity for accessibility makes their fall from that lofty pedestal all the harder to watch. Placing the weight of an entire genre’s future on two blokes from Brighton was, no doubt, a bit unfair; but, with expectations reset, perhaps the future of Royal Blood remains hopeful. I for one look forward to finding out, if and when the storm subsides.