Every few years, there seems to be an artist or band that takes a real swing for the fences with a big album. More often than not, though, the result is uneven, if not bloated and self-indulgent—a sign that the artist's reach shadows their grasp. Albums such as Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion or, more recently, Foxygen’s ...And Star Power have demonstrated that bigger and more ambitious is not always better. It feels remarkable, then, when we actually see an album like this that succeeds in remaining vital through its entire run-time and lives up to the lofty expectations set up by the artist’s ambition.

If one thing could be said about Portland, Oregon’s orchestral maximist band, Typhoon, or the music they have created up to this point, it could never be that they are lacking in ambition. From their massive lineup that, at times, includes more than a dozen members, to their intricately composed music that utilizes these varying pieces in interesting and dynamic ways, nothing the band does is small or seemingly easy.

However, with their fourth full-length album, Offerings, Typhoon takes the plunge into the realm of the capital-A 'Ambitious Album', and not only are they successful in doing so, but it feels like a natural progression from the already phenomenal work they have produced so far—one as complicated and heartbreaking as ceaselessly beautiful.

Offerings is a successful where so many albums like it are not because it is, in every sense, a progression of Typhoon’s work thus far—musically, thematically, and lyrically. While it is a giant leap forward for the band, it is one they are obviously prepared to make, and do so masterfully.

Their previous album, 2013’s White Lighter, is beautifully filled with earnest yet painful nostalgia. It’s about looking back on the experiences and naivety of youth through the eyes of someone who has grown jaded by the painful truths present in growing older. This dynamic is surprisingly best summed up in the three brief verses of the sub-one minute track “Caesar” toward the end of White Lighter.

“I learned to talk / Said I would be Caesar / Or nothing at all /

But I've seen the top / They'll tear you to pieces / Just to watch you fall /

I climbed back down / Said I would be happy / With nothing at all”

I have had the immense fortune to see Typhoon play live on numerous occasions in unique and wildly varying settings each time. Maybe the greatest part of each of these live experiences since the release of White Lighter was in the unexpected way they closed their set. Typhoon did not close their sets with one of their most popular songs, or even a deep cut from one of their early albums.

Instead, they closed each set with an extended version of 'Caesar' that transitions into 'Reed Road', a completely unreleased song (at that point) that has still only seen release as a live track on their 2015 live album, Live at the Crystal Ballroom. Besides simply being a phenomenal song, “Reed Road” is important because of how it functions as a transition between White Lighter and Offerings.

“You were born in a hospital bed / You will return to the hospital bed, my friend / Life's a beast that shits and eats from the same end / You won't remember the trials nor the tenderness / We'll become your succession of breath”

Offerings is about what happens when those memories referenced in 'Reed Road' start to disappear, or worse, distort and betray you. From the first moment of the album singer Kyle Morton confronts the listener with the grandiosity Offerings is shooting for with the spoken line: “Listen, of all the things you are about to lose, this will be the most painful.”

Morton and the rest of Typhoon then proceed to back up the scale promised by this opening line. They not only capture the pain of one’s own mind turning against you, but also the confusion, and randomness that goes along with this struggle, and with memory in general.

Offerings is presented in the form of four musical movements over its 14 tracks and nearly 70-minute runtime—Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning, and Afterparty. The first of these movements, Floodplains, comprising of the first four tracks, “Wake,” “Rorschach,” “Empiricist,” and “Algernon,” sets the bar incredibly high for what remains, with each song not only building upon the last thematically, but showing Typhoon’s remarkable ability to create dynamic and beautiful music in widely varying ways. Moments of quiet introspection, brutal honesty, and swelling cinematic scale all flow together in perfect cohesion and not a single member of the band or their many instruments are overused, mistimed, or underutilized in their contributions. Horns and strings are used sparingly but always when the song needs it most.

After such a strong opening movement, the worry would be that Typhoon cannot keep up this momentum throughout the remainder of Offerings, but this is far from the case. In the second movement, Flood, the band captures the feeling the movement’s name suggests of memories rushing through the narrator’s mind like an unstoppable force. This momentum carries through to the both heart wrenching and cathartic back half of the album in the final two movements, Reckoning and Afterparty.

With Offerings, Typhoon makes a giant leap from a band releasing music deserving of significantly more attention than they have received to one worthy of discussion among the best acts working today. Not only does the album deliver a wonderful collection of music like their previous efforts, but one whose scale and reach, both thematic and musically, makes the consistency of the album as a whole noteworthy and utterly impressive.

As early as we are into 2018 as we may be, Offerings already stands as a rare example of a band shooting for a terrifyingly ambitious album that not only holds up to that immense pressure, but exceeds expectations and succeeds on multiple levels, both grand and subtle. If you haven’t been paying attention to Typhoon already, it’s time to change that.