Royal Blood, “Typhoons” (Warner Records)
Most rock duos are based around the guitar-and-drums concept – think The White Stripes or The Black Keys. Now imagine taking away the guitar.
That’s Royal Blood, a band of just two Englishmen that rocks like any other band but just without the axe. They simply don’t need it and their third full-length album, “Typhoons,” questions why we are all in love with six strings anyway.
With tracks like “Boilermaker” – with production help from Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age – “Trouble’s Coming” and the awesome title song, Royal Blood trend toward a snappier, more danceable groove but they kick up a fuss.
Singer, keyboardist and bassist Mike Kerr puts the bass front and center, often fuzzed-out and doing a solo. Drummer Ben Thatcher attacks his kit like a jackhammer operator. This is stripped-down garage rock blessed with massive hooks.
The band emerged in 2014 with its energetic self-titled debut that had a dirtier, messier feel and became a hit in Britain, even being nominated for a Mercury Prize. Kerr and Thatcher cleaned and refined their sound with their sophomore release, “How Did We Get So Dark?”
The new album is even tighter and more focused, a neater distillation of Royal Blood. Some fans may miss the jagged, slouchy rock of the past, but the streamlined “Typhoons” is much more liable to increase streams and interest.
One curious footnote is the final song. After 10 head-banging tunes, the album ends with Kerr abandoning his bass and singing the gentle, Coldplay-ish “All We Have Is Now” on piano. “All we have is now/So just let it go,” he sings. Could this signal a future new path? Whatever it means, this is a band to watch.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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