Some four and a bit years ago, I was wandering Austin City Limits on my way to see someone or other. I brushed past a stage where no less than eleven people were producing some of the most impressive music I’d heard in sometime. The band, it turned out, were Typoon, an outfit out of Portland, Oregon, and already had three albums behind them. The next day I went to Waterloo Records to buy everything I could get my hands on, with a third LP, the brilliant White Lighter, becoming an album that I would remain addicted to for years to come. Over four years and a solo record for lead vocalist Kyle Morton later, the group have returned with the big concept, 70 minute record Offerings. So, was the latest effort from the group, which snuck out at the beginning of the year, worth the long wait?
The album opens with “Wake”, which feels like a continuation from their last album – before it builds into something of a sequel, as if produced by Hans Zimmer (think of the chant that repeats in The Dark Knight Rises). Indeed, their music has always been cinematic, but the band have taken those influences up to another level here, and it’s not something the band are shy in admitting. Lead singer Kyle Morton explains,
I was watching a lot of David Lynch, and thought a lot about the Christopher Nolan movie, ‘Memento’, and Fellini’s ‘8 ½’. And there were a lot of books on my nightstand that played into this. It made it a much darker album for sure…
There are indeed heavier moments on the record than you would have found in 2014’s White Lighter, though it’s not without it’s grand moments of exultation (see “Unusual”) and though it’s rarely as sombre as Kyle’s 2016 solo release, tracks like “Chiaroscuro” could have easily sit amongst that collection. The album ends with “Sleep”, an album closer which includes a secret track – something of a lost art now – that seems to serve as an epilogue to the story that precedes it.
The album is an album in the very classic sense of the word. This is meant to be listened to from start to finish. And in that respect it’s hard not to follow their wishes – the moments that are strongest are only further strengthened by the songs that sit beside it. There are only a few tracks that I would listen to by themselves; which in itself is both a weakness and a strength of the record. As a whole, it’s a masterpiece, but set any track side-by-side with their earlier material, it’s hard not to prefer what’s come before.
Nonetheless, the group gambled that a lengthy, big concept record would resonate with fans and they haven’t come up short. This is and isn’t the Typhoon we knew before. They’ve matured as songwriters and as masters of their craft, and while it’s fair to say Offerings won’t be hitting the top 20 pop charts anytime soon, fans will not be disappointed… and here’s hoping this Portland group win a few new fans along the way as well.
Review Score: 9.2 out of 10 – AU APPROVED
Offerings is available now.