MUCH HAS BEEN made of the size of Typhoon's lineup, which has varied from seven to 17, but right now hovers somewhere around 11. But in an age of Arcade Fires and Broken Social Scenes—bands whose ranks can also reach the double digits—these numbers aren't as unusual as they might have once seemed. What is remarkable, though, is the clarity of vision on Typhoon's new album Hunger and Thirst, which juggles the contributions of all the members with stunning ease. It's an album devoid of clutter, with lean and hungry moments buttressed by astonishing passages of wide-open beauty.
Still, this is a band so big that a single album release show cannot contain it. So Typhoon is doing two: an all-ages early show at Backspace, immediately followed by a 21+ show next door at Someday Lounge that same evening. And if ever a record deserved multiple release shows, it is Hunger and Thirst, the album that Typhoon fans feared might never happen, and one that surpasses the high expectations the band's history has thrust upon it. Each song progresses with a steady gait; singer Kyle Morton leads the pack with a voice that bluntly hits a raw nerve, and when the full Typhoon ensemble opens their throats to sing along, the moments become transcendent.
Typhoon formed in Salem over five years ago while the band members were still in their teens. Following a run of house shows and small-scale tours—including a self-titled album and an EP—the band went on indefinite hiatus. That might have been the end of Typhoon's story, but fortunately the thread got picked up again early in 2009.
"I'm not sure exactly what changed," says Morton, "except from the time we stopped playing I started to really miss it. I think everyone else did too, and when we started working on it together again, it felt really good. We finally got this comfortable spot to start practicing and recording again, and then we started bringing in people, maybe one or two at a time. So we had this core group of maybe five or six of us working on arranging all the songs. I think what we have now is the smoothest incarnation of the band that has ever been. It feels like the continuation of the old band. I know this is a cliché, but I feel like we've grown up a lot."
That new maturity is plainly evident on Hunger and Thirst, which was recorded by the band's friend and producer Paul Laxer in an old Victorian house the band was living in. "We still really have a DIY philosophy," Morton explains, "but when we recorded stuff in the past we did it ourselves and had no real idea of how to record and mix properly. Jared [Mees, of Tender Loving Empire, the band's label] was basically the catalyst to get us recording this thing, and then Paul made it happen as far as really good sound quality, as opposed to records we've done in the past."
If Hunger and Thirst feels like the band's definitive statement of purpose, it may not have been precisely designed that way, but such a result was practically inevitable. "I think I unintentionally had it building up this long," says Morton of the songwriting, which is the most focused work he's done. "It sort of just all happened at once. I totally would have liked for it to all be intentional, but a certain amount of it, I think, is a result of things that have happened over the years, which then boiled to a head."