Back from the brink of addiction and the sophomore slump, Royal Blood channel alt-rock and dandy disco-funk on long-awaited third album Typhoons. The Mic’s Alex Ollier delves beneath the lightning-fast riffs and danceable beats of the Brighton duo’s most personal work to date.
Royal Blood rose from the 2010s, an era dominated by uninspired pop music, and quickly made a name for themselves. Their sound was new. It was raw, simple, and energetic while remaining polished. Their success laid in the minimalism of their music: a bass with a few effect pedals, a drum set, and Kerr’s vocals. After two critically-acclaimed albums, Royal Blood release Typhoons, with its experimental disco-rock sound. While a step away from their humble beginnings, it nonetheless achieves the same effect as the first two albums.
From the shift in genres, both band members find themselves exploring new concepts with their respective instruments: Kerr blends his bass playing with synths and Thatcher implements new rhythms and claps into his drumming. Their new sound is more produced, adding new instruments and varying musical layers which helps the album blur lines between genres. It is almost a seamless blend of alternative rock and groovy disco-funk.
‘The album feels fresh and innovative, infused with the essence and roots of their two previous albums.’
While writing Typhoons, the Brighton duo adopted the same “back to basics” attitude that made their self-titled debut so exciting and unique, both drawing inspiration from noughties electro-dance giants, most notably Daft Punk and Justice. Although their bass and drum approach remains at the centre of all tracks, this album takes a new direction and does it well. This new sound is especially apparent in Limbo, with its ninety seconds fade away synth and bass outro. The album is mostly self-produced, besides Boilermaker and Who Needs Friends which were produced by Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Josh Homme and Paul Epworth respectively.
While most bands shy away from tweaking their formula, Royal Blood embrace it. The album feels fresh and innovative, infused with the essence and roots of their two previous albums. It stays undeniably Royal Blood, whilst demonstrating a perfect example of musical development. Lyrically, Typhoons tackles Kerr’s struggles and darker times. It explores his mindset as he takes us through a journey of being lost in his own thoughts and struggles with mental health.
While on Trouble’s Coming lyrics Kerr declares “I let my demons take hold and choke on me,” one of the album’s later tracks Mad Visions speaks of that euphoric feeling one gets when letting go, backed by melodic heavy guitar in true feel-good fashion. The combination of darker themes with energetic music gives for an unmatched listening experience. In contrast with the first two albums which focused on relationships, Typhoons’ lyrical shift once again reinforces Royal Blood’s change of direction.
Typhoons offers enough musical diversity for fans of both the old and new sounds. While songs like Million and One, with its synth-keyboard outro, and Typhoons are deep-rooted in this new sonic landscape, Boilermaker, a fan-favourite since its live debut back in 2019, transpires the same energy as the band’s previous work, without appearing out of place in the tracklist. The end of the album comes in the form of a soft piano ballad, an unexpected close to an otherwise dynamic album. All we have is now is a striking reminder to live in the moment and enjoy things while they last.
It is an emotionally charged song and a fitting end to an album that feels like an invitation into Kerr’s mind. Typhoons is Royal Blood’s most personal work to date. It is a perfectly choreographed blend of musical maturity and meaningful lyricism, wrapped in danceable disco-rock sounds and further consolidates their place as one of the UK’s best modern rock bands.
Written by: Alex Ollier Edited by: Olivia Stock