Temples first seized and cemented my attention when I saw them at Camden’s Electric Ballroom last November.
I was prompted to see them by the brilliant, retro, Revolver-esque Shelter Song that, for me, was undeniably the most memorable song of 2012. Colours To Life also stimulated a rush of excitement and anticipation for an album, which would completely defy the populist, humdrum, talentless music industry that phrenic music lovers repel today. Following the recent unveiling of Sun Structures, some may accuse Temples of being derivative or simply a by-product of albums such as The Beatles Revolver, or Strange Days by The Doors. Temples are hardly the avant-garde archetype and Sun Structures may not be particularly revolutionary, but it’s certainly refreshing.
Sun Structures opens with Shelter Song, which immediately sets the tone for a hallucinogenic journey down, what Temples have a labelled themselves as, a ‘neo-psych’ path. The use of vintage equipment to encapture the sound and spirit of the psychedelic scene of the 60s is perpetual in what is a strong opening track. However, the album isn’t just a nostalgic trip to 1969, it encapsulates the evolution of psychedelia, from The Beatles, to Pink Floyd and The Flaming Lips, and puts a modern spin on it, with electric synths often creeping in. The Golden Throne combines orchestral 60s pop with heavy with fuzz-pedal guitar riffs, which is more innovative than Temples critics would proclaim. The album’s highlight is unquestionably Move With The Season, a stunning, dazed, rush of intricately crafted melodic riffs. It avoids the pitfall that many psychedelic bands fall into by filling an album with distorted guitar, to the point where it becomes tiresome and all sense of melody evaporates with little substance left behind.
…a dreamy, ritualistic two minute track…
It’s extraordinary that this is Temples debut album. The mastery demonstrated in Sun Structures would fool the listener to believing that this was their third or fourth. The Guesser resembles a track that could appear on a Tarantino film, with heavy emphasis on the percussion side and hypnotic acid-soaked riffs. Sand Dance magnifies the incurable hippy nature of the band, resembling some sort of ancient Egyptian ritual, and certainly something that would send a crowd at Woodstock into a hippy frenzy. The album ends with Fragment’s Light a dreamy, ritualistic two minute track (the shortest track on the album) with no heavy drums propelling the track, but the soft acoustic melody and dazed and suffused vocals carries the track by itself.
So far the album has divided both fans and the critics. However, as an album it embeds all the best elements of psychedelic rock whilst paying extra attention to sweeping, anthemic melodies. Whether you find this ‘ground-breaking’ or not, it’s an album which will keep the cogs in the psychedelic machine moving through 2014. Yes, the lyrics are hardly going to evoke emotions, or experiences that we can directly relate to, such as bands like The Smiths cultivated in their ingenious lyrics. However, this is an album that pursues escape from the dreary norms of everyday life, and everyday experiences. It thrusts you into a different world, a world of utopian day dreams and psychedelic euphoria. A desirable hide away from the incredibly tedious, superficial and aesthetic music scene which propels the talentless into stardom and success. Whilst this album will probably not be greeted with massive commercial success, it will appear in all of the music connoisseur’s beloved vinyl collection, as this is an album made to be played on a turntable.