Typhoon – Offerings
Roll Call Records
-out Jan. 12
3.5 / 5
We’ve thought greatly about this double-album fresh from Portland, OR’s Typhoon. There is one word that circles about our head like a persistent muse:
There is no doubt here that Offerings, the third full-length studio offering (and the band’s first double-album) is the most ambitious album we’ve reviewed in our ten years of reviewing. This is exactly what we wanted to see from Typhoon, fresh off their brilliant White Lighter in 2013, one of our two 5 of 5 reviews on here. It’s a double album in three movements that plays off of a man losing his memory; and while we can’t describe in depth the variations between the movements, the meaning of “Asa Nisi Masa,” or other cryptic parts of the songwriting, we can say this album represents a turning point for the band. It seems fair to write a double-review for this kind of double-album.
For a rock orchestra that tends to be around a dozen members (it looks like eight now), we have become used to the thunder and lightning that is Typhoon’s explosive moments, supported by the dark, internal lyricism from leader Kyle Morton. Offerings tries less thunder, and more internal illumination. Its songwriting differs immensely from the brilliant White Lighter in which each song darted to and fro, always changing and finding a new melody to tag back to its previous incarnation. White Lighter captured our attention and our excitement, it kept us guessing: it was dizzying and tight, a train that teeters going over the rails, that kind of excitement. Offerings is more an observation train, one that goes through the countryside (if that countryside is crumbling and perpetually shrouded in dark) and breathes much more relaxed. We wonder if the double-album is this band’s more natural element; though we simultaneously miss those abrupt shifts in song and melody that pull us through the darker areas of Morton’s lyrics. Offerings, then, feels more relaxed, more self-assured than any of Typhoon’s previous musical… offerings. Morton feels more natural and calm here, less emotive and frantic than before.
This is a difficult album for us for a few reasons. One, because Typhoon is one of our favorite finds on this blog, and there is no way for us to be impartial to them. Two, because of the sheer length and depth of lyrics (which are possibly more cryptic than before). Three, because there isn’t a clear single to give to you for a sense of the album. In fact, the songs here don’t pull out too varied. They all work together, but also their calmness blends them together a bit too much. We’re not sure if Offerings is an album that will grow on us, or if it already has had the time to work its magic on us. The calmness makes Offerings an album you have to listen to in a slow, melancholic mood; you’re not going to put this one on to get peppy or sing along to. Yes, we sing along to White Lighter! We don’t play Offerings time and time again, either. Those difficult lyrics, again, make it difficult to pull out the story Morton’s trying to tell here, which we suspect is much of the enjoyment of this kind of piece. But we ramble… let’s pull this together.
Offerings is exactly what we want to see from Typhoon: a sweeping, ambitious album from a dynamic rock orchestra. It is a lot to digest, and doesn’t have the easiest way into its labyrinth. We suspect most Typhoon devotees will celebrate the opportunity to enjoy their band to the length of a feature film. But those unfamiliar with Typhoon will likely hit Offerings with a hot-or-cold feeling toward it. We’re a bit more than lukewarm on this one, but who knows? Maybe a year from now we’ll pick it up again and see brilliance where once we were confused. We still applaud this level of exploration, and can’t wait to see where this band wants to explore next. Not perfect, not as exciting as it should be, but recommended.