Album Review: Royal Blood – Typhoons (2021)

The English rock duo Royal Blood return with their third studio album, ‘Typhoons’

Royal Blood have a very specific sound which is hard to recreate or imagine another band making – indeed, it is impossible as Mike Kerr keeps his own technique a VERY guarded secret. For their first two albums, although they were brilliant albums which sounded great and had a string of successful hits, it felt like they got too samey, got too lost in the niche which they possess.

The first sign that something different was coming was, actually, with ‘Trouble’s Coming’, although I don’t hear the comparative sonic differences to their older music which critics lauded of it. Maybe I’m deaf. It’s probably one of my favourites they’ve ever made – but do I hear a disco vibe? Nah. It just sounds like trademark RB, with a fantastic riff, strong drums and a very repetitive chorus. A banger, nevertheless. No, the difference was, we were coming out of the black; its orange artwork was the first time they had ever had colour on a release.

The other singles for ‘Typhoons’ weren’t as good, unfortunately. Latest single ‘Boilermaker’, which has been described by NME as the centrepiece of the album, was horrific to me on first listen. I’ve softened slightly towards it over the past days, but it still feels a bit messy, almost parodic. The melody annoys me – by the time the riff hits the same note for the thirteenth hit in a row, I feel like I’m getting hit over the head with the guitar. Still – it’s an earworm and won’t leave your head for hours. I don’t think I’ll ever like the title track – it goes on about a minute too long for me. As an album, it’s very difficult for me to be critical of it as it charts Mike’s struggles with addiction and his progression out of it – as he put it himself, the album wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t been able to get sober. Even if musically it isn’t the greatest, its writing is heartfelt and honest, and it should be an achievement for anyone who has faced such darkness and problems to turn it into something positive or creative in this way.

This embodies ‘Million and One’, which is also the first sign of the dance-rock I’ve heard rumoured from the Brighton duo. Its intro reminds me of an 80s song – however it turns into a melancholic, Daft Punk / Twenty One Pilots-esque track. Lyrically it’s an ode to someone who helped Mike turn his life around – ‘you should have run but you stayed”, and his gratitude. It’s definitely one of the better tracks here. Third single ‘Limbo’, a five-minute track which similarly straddles both moody and positive, and rock and synths, follows, and in the context of the album, it works really well. I love the outro and the way it fades out.

‘Either You Want It’ feels more fun in nature. If the guitar was lighter, it could easily have been a 2000s indie revival track, but it works well how it is – the massive bass gives it a special edge. ‘Mad Visions’ is genuinely a great song – the chorus in particular is funky and a slightly different effect on the guitar makes it stand out. ‘Hold On’ moves slightly further into the poppier spectrum, and is pretty decent, but isn’t especially memorable. ‘All We Have Is Now’ features a PIANO! – AND NO GUITAR!!! – and is a deeply sad track which sums up the message of the album. It’s a weird finale, but very fitting. I don’t think it will be getting many plays from me though.

Typhoons isn’t going to be the best album you hear in 2021, nor is it particularly different to anything Royal Blood have ever done before, but there are a few great songs. The second half of it shows progression to something vaguely experimental (for RB anyway), but don’t expect the dramatic shift certain websites might lead you to expect. At least they’ve finally let some colour in.

Ryan’s Rating: 6/10

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