Offerings is furthermore a showcase for Morton’s growth as a songwriter.
Anyone who saw Typhoon play in its Hunger & Thirst heyday knew it was a fish that had outgrown its pond—and as seen on “Late Show with David Letterman,” a 12-piece fish. But after the release of 2013’s White Lighter, the band got quiet. Offerings was first announced back in mid-2016 – with the long absence perhaps made longer by front man Kyle Morton’s solo debut, What Will Destroy You, released early last year. Five years is a long time for a band that seemed poised to blow up at any moment. With the group down to eight members, its latest album lacks the grandiosity of previous albums. Yet it’s clear that this was the best way for Typhoon to grow, as stripping down allowed the band to create a better sound, more mature and fully-formed than on previous albums.
Although the band has always been polished, this is its most polished album to date, full of moments where it’s easy to just get lost in how beautiful it sounds. This happens throughout the album, on such highlights as “Algernon” or “Empiricist” – an eight-and-a-half-minute track that keeps teasing you with the expectation of crescendos but coyly saves them for the final half.
Offerings is furthermore a showcase for Morton’s growth as a songwriter. Directness is never his goal; he paints obscured landscapes rather than clear portraits, which can be somewhat frustrating when trying to parse what a song is about, but that’s part of what makes the band so fascinating. Morton’s knack for great lines is on showcase in every single song: “Drank up all that hemlock/ Here I am just reading the leaves,” “What you want and what you want to be are easily confused,” “Make your move before you have no move to make.” When he’s just a little more forthcoming, it packs a wallop, as on the gripping “Chiaroscuro,” when he turns from a visceral, aural image to something tragically specific: “Keys clatter across the tile, you lunge for the phone/ Your voice sounds like a frightened child’s: ‘He’s had some kind of stroke.’” Lines may fall flat, such as the perplexing “I shit the bed in solitude” of “Wake,” but it’s a testament to Morton as a songwriter – and to Typhoon as a band – that even the weakest moments never derail the proceedings.
Still, the lushness and oblique lyrics can make it hard sink your ears into this at times, and this is the album’s one real drawback. Sure, it could have used more of Shannon Steele’s singing voice, but with a grower like this you’ll need time to soak in all its features. Perhaps that’s the real secret to the album’s success. Offerings takes a little patience, but it’s finally rewarding when its charms come into sharper focus. Which means maybe it was all for the best that Typhoon didn’t blow up five years ago. It gave the band a chance to disappear and reemerge with a more satisfying sound.