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Royal Blood - Typhoons (Album Review)

Friday, 30 April 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Imagine The White Stripes had grown up full of post-millennial angst, worshipping Muse as well as old blues artists. That’s pretty much how Royal Blood sounded when they exploded onto the scene in 2014. But after two albums following said formula, ‘Typhoons’ is what might have transpired had Jack and Meg taken a turn into disco and funk territory. Think that sounds like an awful volte face? Think again.

By the time Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher released their self-titled debut, being a two-piece, blues-based rock act was hardly a novelty. Yet Royal Blood immediately seemed that way, given that Kerr’s bass had been fed through a highly secretive rig to create a monstrous sound that bore the hallmarks of an alt-rock Jimmy Page at his most vengeful and elemental.

The problem with such a limited line-up, however, is that their lack of musical options will almost inevitably lead to repetition and stagnation.

At some point, in order to develop as artists, they’ll have to twist rather than stick. The question is whether that can be done without sacrificing what made them popular in the first place.

A case of evolution rather than revolution, on ‘Typhoons’ the band have seamlessly embellished their bombastic darkness with lashings of colourful electronic textures and dancefloor grooves that are ridiculously funky, fresh and impossible to resist. Although seemingly incompatible, such different stylistic worlds collide so well because the band clearly love the music they’ve incorporated and understand how to marry it to their aesthetic in a way that’s pushed the envelope without jettisoning their core strengths.  

Demanding you move like Jagger, Trouble’s Coming (Daft Punk meets the Bee Gees meets Black Sabbath), Limbo and Oblivion blend shape-throwing riffs and crushing drum beats with a tastefully deployed wave of modern synth flourishes that either subtly enhance the songs’ ambient bent and rhythmic bounce, or take centre stage to create an evocative futuristic atmosphere.  

Royal Blood’s riffs have always inhabited the funkier end of the blues-rock spectrum and, in Thatcher, they’ve a one-man percussive orchestra capable of unleashing all sorts of cool rhythmic patterns. Thus, venturing into this new territory, and executing their intentions so proficiently, shouldn’t be as surprising as it may initially appear.  

Combined with incredibly catchy hooks that are seductive, sexy and a little dangerous, thanks to Kerr’s increasingly confident and magnetic falsetto, and a peppering of soulful backing vocals where necessary, the album boasts a bevvy of potential hit singles that could easily make this the feelgood release of the summer.

It’s impressive that ‘Typhoons’ is such a joyous sounding record, though, when it’s largely informed by Kerr’s recovery from alcohol addiction. Chronicling his redemption in a way that’s completely unsanitised, they’ve pulled off the old Abba trick of housing darker themes inside seemingly shiny happy compositions. As such, tunes such as the melodiously contagious Mad Visions and  dynamically unhinged Boilermaker, produced by Josh Homme, boast a gritty edge and depth of emotional potency you don’t usually hear in this style of music.

Full of songs that should be experienced in a nightclub, preferably while strutting your stuff on the dancefloor beneath a shimmering, kaleidoscopic glitter ball, ‘Typhoons’ is exactly the kind of uplifting, superstar-making record the band needed to create at this point in their career and, after such a turbulent year, we could all use a healthy dose of it in order to heal and move forwards.

Royal Blood Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat July 24 2021 - SHEFFIELD Hillsborough Park
Fri March 25 2022 - BOURNEMOUTH Bournemouth Int'nl Centre
Sat March 26 2022 - BIRMINGHAM Utilita Arena
Sun March 27 2022 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
Tue March 29 2022 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
Wed March 30 2022 - LONDON O2 Arena
Fri April 01 2022 - LEEDS first direct Arena
Sat April 02 2022 - MANCHESTER AO Arena
Sun April 03 2022 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Mon May 30 2022 - LONDON O2

Compare & Buy Royal Blood Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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