Ah, Royal Blood. Too indie to be rock but too rock to be indie. Whilst that can be a death knell for some, for the Brighton duo it meant that all important phrase: “crossover appeal” and they exploded with their mediocre, if overhyped, debut album before bafflingly continuing that momentum with their damp squib tour. But their bland and lethargic follow-up blended the ego of Lars Ulrich with the pretention of The Smiths and made something more beige than Keir Starmer. Which frankly made them a great fit to support Slash’s Back-up Gig When Myles Kennedy is Busy With Alter Bridge and Solo Activities and Axl Rose Really Needs a Retirement Fund (apparently Guns N’ Roses is a snappier name).
So where does album three, Typhoons, sit? Quite simply: the bin. If you still buy CDs, you could always put it to use as a coaster so we don’t have more plastic in landfill. Disco rock is a sub-genre which never got much traction past Queen’s Hot Space (and even most folk hate that) and The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” (Keith Richards, if you’re reading this, sorry but I actually kind of like it) and rightfully so. But that’s what Royal Blood have made, thinking it’s 1981 and not 2021. It’s not even the fun kind of cheesy like an 80s club night with all those fun pop tunes. This is the cheesiness which goes into toe-curlingly cringey like Boris Johnson trying to play an acoustic guitar but his fretting hand is higher up than the capo.
Opening track “Trouble’s Coming” sounds like a dodgy Scissor Sisters b-side and continues that campaign into “Oblivion”. Meanwhile, “All We Have is Now” closes the album with their best attempt to sound like Coldplay. And those are the high points. Everything in-between this proverbial shit sandwich is instantly forgettable, choosing style over substance and over-produced to within an inch of its life. Essentially, this is the musical equivalent of a JJ Abrams film. All you need is an over-use of lens flare and it’d be a perfect representation.
You’d be willing to forgive them if they were at least trying to say something with their lyrics. Except they don’t. It’s mainly just a series of overused metaphors cobbled together as the album lurches from one cliché to the next. Words spill forth in a stream of consciousness, trying to be the kid at school who constantly whines “No-one understands me!” And that’s ultimately where this album’s failings are – trying to be something it’s not. But most of all, this is an album which lacks heart and authenticity.
There’s nothing at all which redeems Typhoons. It continues on a path of pretention set by its predecessor and it almost seems a deliberate attempt to make something so contrived so that it can be looked back on as a “misunderstood masterpiece”. This isn’t Led Zeppelin III. Two-piece bands, by their very nature, have a shelf life and Royal Blood’s expired years ago. This doesn’t extend it; it simply reinforces it. However, I can’t deny that this album is art. Since the purpose of art is to provoke a reaction, it got one from me – anger. I’m angry that such a dreadful album exists, and I’ve heard St Anger. But mainly because I’ve now listened to it, my streaming recommendation algorithm is going to be fucked for weeks.
Typhoons is out now