Ah, Royal Blood. Brighton’s two-man answer to the creative stagnation of rock music that, armed modestly with a drum kit, bass guitar and a metric tonne of guitar pedals, tore through the worldwide rock scene with their 2014 eponymous debut; we all know them, and most of us love them…
Nearly three years later, sophomore release, How Did We Get So Dark, scored critical and public acclaim alike yet, underneath the familiar riot of tuned up bass riffs and cymbal abuse, it was hard to shake the feeling that Royal Blood was pulling their punches; where was the risk? The innovation?
Well, apparently, it was ‘on its way’ and the band delivered their package three years later in September 2020; I’m fairly sure I asked for next day delivery but that’s besides the point. Their gift to the world was Trouble’s Coming, a vivacious tease of a new era of the band replete with the funk and swagger you’d expect of an 80’s dance floor minus the outrageous amount of hair; a slight tweak to the formula that turned gold to diamond. People say lightning never strikes in the same place twice? Well allow me to introduce one’s foot to one’s mouth – Typhoons makes two for two in Royal Blood’s grandiose new M.O.
Launched by the gentle wisps of Mike Kerr’s falsetto – a facet that will undoubtedly become a familiar tool for the duo – Royal Blood soon leaves 2nd gear behind and unleashes the track’s neck-taming groove and accompanying filth-ridden bass tone. Through and through, Typhoons is very much the edgier, scar-bearing brother to Trouble’s Coming’s glossy finish. Sure the track dives into themes of psychosis and paranormal visions but the falsetto backing vocals and glamorous production locks it in as the friendlier dance jam of the two. That’s no insult either. No, Typhoons simply has its own way with the hard rock/funk (hard funk? hunk?) fusion that involves bringing slightly more gristle to the mix.
That is mostly due to whichever of Kerr’s 900 or so guitar pedals he’s chosen to pile atop his signature style of riffing to make for a truly unholy rapture of distortion. The riffs wind and weave around the track’s numerous vocal layers with a prolific ascension marking the end of the chorus that is nothing short of magic. Bringing up the rear, Ben Thatcher, reliant as ever, forms the track’s unmistakable groove – his hiss of cymbals and closing thumps of drum skin making the effervescent yin to Kerr’s more volatile Yang.
This leaves us in a rather precarious spot. Typhoons is no short of a great song which, paired with its even groovier brethren Trouble’s Coming, makes for an auspicious run-up to the release of the LP sharing its namesake this Easter. This, however, could be a case of needing to curb my enthusiasm. If Typhoons results in a record where hard rock meets the band’s sleeve-worn influences of Daft Punk and Justice then we have nothing to fear, but if I’m to psych myself up only to find these tracks cumbersomely slapped in between their, now, overly familiar blend of modern rock then I’d better temper my expectations to be on the safe side. Until then, I will wait, in quiet excitement.