Four years after How Did We Get So Dark?, Royal Blood have returned with their third full-length and the road to this release has been quite a journey. From Mike Kerr’s struggle to get sober to the worldwide shuttering and subsequent postponement of live entertainment, Typhoons is the culmination of a two-year odyssey of writing, recording and overcoming numerous road blocks to give the world a new and improved Royal Blood; still very much themselves only dancier this time. Case and point; the first single “Trouble’s Coming”, which landed features in the soundtracks for NHL 21 and FIFA 21 back in October kicks off the record; harkening back heavily to HDWGSD but with a pounding four-in-the-floor groove from Ben Thatcher moving the track along.
The approach on “Trouble’s Coming” more than sets the dynamic precedent for the record as any strong opener should, as evidenced on the subsequent tracks “Oblivion” and second single “Typhoons”. “Oblivions” stands out thanks to Kerr’s gritty, electrifying basslines and “Typhoons” on account of its dancy catchiness, though Royal’s new sound already starts to get a bit repetitive after the first few cuts. “Who Needs Friends” defers from this path back to traditional RB for a bit, while “Million and One” is closer to the album M.O but with some keys thrown in for variety.
“Limbo” is an undeniably infectious piece of neo-disco-neo-garage-rock or whatever you hipsters want to call it, similar to some of the groovers Foo Fighters put on their Medicine At Midnight album earlier this year (“Cloudspotter” comes to mind the most). “Either You Want It” is a sweet little change-up on the drums, while the Josh Homme-produced “Boilermaker” is a noisy, boisterous blast of attitude, certainly worthy of the praise it’s received thus far. “Mad Visions” takes it back to the dance floor with Kerr squeezing out every kind of new sound he can get from his bass; “Hold On” more or less sounds the same. The closer “All We Have Is Now” is a drastic departure though; a vulnerable, spacey piano number that has never been attempted on a Royal Blood record until now. If this new bit of variance in Royal Blood’s sound is a by-product of Kerr kicking the bottle and learning how to write songs again, all the more power to him.
The White Stripes popularized the two-piece band concept 20 years ago, and now the likes of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher are taking it beyond a revivalist fad and into the future. It just goes to show that you don’t need a lot of people to make a lot of noise, and Typhoons shows a lot of sonic growth from Royal Blood’s last album. The dance-rock approach they explore on this album runs the risk of being overdone at times, thus they should be careful to fuse it into their expanding sound and not immerse themselves in it to the point of running it into the ground. There are a few of those precarious moments in this record, though there are quite a few more of successful experimentation and smooth, seamless incorporation. What they’ll come with on the next album is anyone’s guess.