Music Reviews

Royal Blood Typhoons

(Warner Records UK) Rating - 6/10

In essence, Royal Blood guide themselves by a simple concept on their third LP. From beginning to end, the Brighton, UK duo lay down a danceable groove and stick by it—fusing pulverizing, pedal-driven fuzz over four-on-the-floor beats. It's a formula that has worked out splendidly for singer/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher since their 2014 self-titled album, one that feels wholly visceral rather than rational. Taking a danceable approach is the band's gimmick, but it also sounds really good—even if it quickly loses steam in its attempt to make the same salad every night with different dressing.

There's a very sincere backstory behind Typhoons. Kerr, who'd struggled with drugs and alcoholism, was at a crossroads while they were recording the album in 2019. Those sessions marked a significant shift for him, a much-needed moment of clarity that allowed him to make some change and stop complaining. He's candid about his struggles on the title track, fully aware of the fact that "all those chemicals dancing through my veins" are blurring his senses over a sleazy groove. It's one of the best songs they've ever written. On the Queens of the Stone Age-recalling Boilermaker—which is no coincidence, as Josh Homme produced the track—he recounts the depravity of his nature—one "cocktail shaker" after the next. The sentiment couldn't be any more direct and even vulnerable, but performance wise, it's filled with empty swagger.

That's not to say that Royal Blood's radio-friendly primal rock shouldn't sound exciting and escapist considering the heavy subject matter. It has every right to contradict itself and not sound like a downer. But after 35 minutes filled with one kinetic power-chord to the next with the littlest variation, Typhoons spreads itself too thin. The lack of nuance here is astounding, sans for the final track All We Have Is Now, which trades Kerr's freakish bass tones with a somber piano confessional. It's a stark reminder of what the duo could've achieved with a little more effort rather than limiting themselves to churning out one banger after the next.