On Typhoons, the Royal Blood duo take a step forward, without ever managing to give it an interesting and convincing flavour so that it shines like at their peak. Instead, this third album feels like a loop that repeats itself endlessly, managing to do everything to avoid disaster. Typhoons for my birthday, I don't really know if it's a gift.
In the space of 3 years, Royal Blood have gone from being a party band and open mic band to one of the biggest selling bands in the whole of the UK. Of course, this is no mere twist of fate, it's a story of metamorphosis and perseverance that has paid off in the end. Before their first single Out of The Black finally gained public support at the end of 2013, Royal Blood were basically a trio formed in 2011, by frontman Mike Kerr, accompanied by Matt Swan on drums and guitarist Joe Dennis. However, one day Mike Kerr called on an acquaintance he had met as a teenager, percussionist and pianist Ben Thatcher, to revive a band that wasn't really working. Royal Blood went from a trio to a simple duo, reminiscent of the spirit and similarities of the White Stripes, without a guitarist so that Mike Kerr could exercise his technique of playing bass and guitar via amps and effects pedals. In addition to their unique formation and technique, Royal Blood also relied on the duo's songwriting and significant investment in production. By mixing the palpable Hard Rock/Blues Rock influences of Led Zeppelin, White Stripes or the Alternative Rock energy of the Pixies, Royal Blood forged a rather personal formula and offered in 2014 their first eponymous album that would propel them as one of the rock surprises of the year. After a string of successes and honorary awards, the band struggles on their second album How Did We Get So Dark in 2017 to give as much flavour as their previous one, precisely because the duo seems to stagnate like a comfort zone. This observation that I am highlighting here is probably one of the central points that one makes of the expectation of Typhoons, as an uncertainty with heavy weight, which could have consequences on the appreciation of this third album.
Although sometimes the nuances are thin, it is rare that an artist/group stagnates for a very long time and totally on its assets without ending up disappearing, the proof being that the artist never likes to be pigeonholed. For the time being, we won't really know if the duo has heard the critics or if they have naturally decided to expand their horizons. Fortunately Typhoons is already the right answer, even without going into details, as an obvious evolution that shows that Royal Blood is leaving the disinfected warehouses for the dance-floor. However, don't expect (and this is not really what they are accused of) that they will abandon their roots and personality, instead the duo will merge their initial "Hard Rock" soul with Alternative Dance. This is what we call a controlled risk, as the two universes work well together on a purely technical level, giving a dose of freshness to a duo that needed it, without losing its true nature. This alone is a truly remarkable positive point. Moreover, the choice to go for more upbeat trends is not a big surprise in itself, since the musical trends on the whole "Pop Rock" panel are often mechanically oriented towards Saturday night fever. In two words: controlled slippage. But far too much in reality. In my opinion, the main flaw of the Typhoon album is paradoxically based on a revisiting formula that is too omnipresent on each of the songs, despite the efforts made. That is to say that when you've listened to the 11 songs, you'll have the impression that they are unfortunately both superimposable, without really finding one that is really fantastic. So sure, Kernn's technique is quite atypical and I appreciate the effect it offers, but I have the impression that it limits him to create more variations. The same pattern of songs and construction is always present, and believe me, after only a few listens, you'll know that there's not much left to learn. To make up for this limitation and this defect, Royal Blood manages to use a formidable efficiency on almost the entire album, so I'm not able to hate it to say that it's a bad album either. It's absolutely appalling and so fascinating at the same time.As such, Royal Blood is particularly good at easy melodies and catchy riffs, supported by a few bridges that complement each other perfectly, without ever falling into the generic. We sail on the edge, but when we don't shine, it's much more complicated.
From the very first seconds of Typhoons, the duo propels you without further ado into their new soundscapes. Tackling introspective and anxious subjects, Trouble's Coming sounds like a wild night out, quite radio-friendly but effective enough not to fall into a too smooth content. Unfortunately, if I magnify the features Oblivion is the same, Typhoon is also the same but better, so you get the idea. Thematically, and we notice it, anxiety remains the engine of the introspective themes of the album, like something that hangs by a thread. The writing also lacks variety and depth, but I'd like to say that's not the biggest problem, because there are some interesting twists and turns. It's just that constant atmosphere that each song offers, that is to say, something very nocturnal, giving the impression that we live every night the same drunken evening, drinking the same drinks and dancing with the same people. You'll definitely understand, so it's not interesting to do a track by track analysis here, but I'll share with you the one I prefer. Typhoon is the best "new direction" type single, because it sums up the album perfectly on its own. BoilerMaker is interesting too, as it's kind of the one song that stands out, with a more raw, indie rock sound that will remind you of their debut. Moreover, it seems to work quite well together, like a natural alchemy. Inspired by Daft Punk and 80's hard rock, Million And One is a very good song, honestly, probably my favourite. Even the cheesiness of the riffs and/or samples used give a certain credibility to the mood of the song. Honestly, I don't think you should be too hard on Typhoons either, because again, it's not a bad album. It's just that it has too many limitations and flaws to be interesting in the long run. Sure, the songs sound like possible hits on the radio, but if you just pick up a handful of the 2/3 songs, you're having a good time. On the other hand, the repetition, the lack of variety and the lack of depth of their new formulas are the real negative point to put forward.