Typhoon – ‘Offerings’

A sprawling, ambitious, dense album, packed with drama and feeling.

Oregon’s Typhoon number anything up to twelve members, marshalled by frontman Kyle Morton, performing a sort of amphitheatre-indie not too distant from acts like Arcade Fire or The Decemberists (the Caledonian in me hears snatches of Frightened Rabbit and pre-electro Twilight Sad, too… a side trajectory where The Cure’s Disintegration was year zero), personal preoccupations writ large in a dark fabulist vibe.  To whit, this, their fourth long player, a concept album intended to depict a slow dystopian step-change into depersonalisation through loss of memory.

“I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?” explains Morton.

Morton quotes influences such as Beckett, Lynch and Fellini as inspiration for this work; grand aims, to be sure, which at first seem to chafe against the pared-down, sometimes four-square nature of the music.  Where previous Typhoon releases have made more use of strings and horns, Offerings cleaves more closely to a simplified, guitar-led palate; there’s tracks on here – most notably, Remember – which could be excised from the main body to fit surprisingly comfortably amongst yer Coldplaying drivetime blandalanda.

Unfair, however, to pick this niggardly apart – it’s intended as a whole, and imparts greater light and shade over its distance.  In describing his album, Morton is keen it be seen in a “dystopian” light, as an ominous thing, but that rather mis-sells it; it achieves a dreamier, more ambivalent tone, with excerpts like the woozy Unusual or Beachtowel far more indicative.

Lyrically, too, the approach is towards the allusive and recitative rather than the breast-beating and bald.  Showing my age here, I was often reminded of the Smashing Pumpkins from way, way back before self-satisfaction and showboating set in – showing my age, too, in perhaps not finding this as immersive an experience as its authors intended, notwithstanding a satisfying last act and intriguing final post-credits twist – but its ambition shouldn’t be faulted.

❉ Typhoon – ‘Offerings’ was released by Roll Call Records, 12 January 2018: https://wearetyphoon.bandcamp.com/album/offerings

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