Monday, 10 February 2014
''Sun Structures'' Temples - A Review
It's been a mere year and a half or so since James Bagshaw and Thomas Warmsley formed Temples, yet they'd courted considerable acclaim before the release of Sun Structures, their debut album which dropped today. The aforementioned attention that the UK four piece (they added to their number shortly after singing to Heavenly Recordings) were the subject of came from impressive sources, most notably in the form of Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr, who were quick to declare them as the finest young band in Britain following a couple of single release and live support slots for the likes of Kasabian and The Vaccines, while NME followed suit with their usual hype machine, a factor that has both benefited and damaged bands in the past, while also proving accurate and incorrect in equal measure. And so now arrives the time to listen rather than talk, and find out whether Temples really are worthy of attention.
The first three tracks of Sun Structures are enough to understand Temples; they don't simply want to bring the 1970's into present day music, they'd rather go back in time and live out their fantasies in their borrowed era. Opener ''Shelter Song'' was released all the way back in November 2012 and it's easy to see why the hype train followed this almost Beach Boyesque composition; it's a stunning 3 minute pop that's sure to grab the attention of any intuitive music fan. Second comes a title track that sets the tone for the remainder of the record with its unrelenting psychedelic style and retro presence as a variety of instruments swirl around the listener's mind, attempting to recreate the consciousness expanding vibe of its original source to great aplomb, before ''The Golden Throne'' evokes the rock/pop aesthetic of the 1960's in a manner that quite rare to hear these days, with a breezy, stylish nature somewhat reminiscent of The Future Sound Of London's oft overlooked and underrated project The Isness (2002). This FSOL likening follows through with tracks like the bouncy, acoustic led ''Keep In The Dark'' and dreamy vibes of ''The Guesser'' (which also brings to mind Big Lebowski cult favourite ''Just Dropped In'' by Mickey Newbury).
Other influences, aside from the very obvious psychedelic classics, are traceable, with the experimental folk of Akron/Family prominent in album centerpiece and highlight ''A Question Isn't Answered'', with all of its tribal clapping and rising chanting descending into soaring guitar riffs that bring an unexpected and well executed climax. More album standouts come in the form of ''Colours To Life'', another already released single and penultimate track ''Sand Dance'', a wandering 6 minute piece that explores the majority of styles that have been confronted by the band over the course of the album, before ''Fragments Light'' ends on a light acoustic outro with the same drowned, distant vocals that characterize much of these 52 minutes.
Which brings to an end a very enjoyable listening experience for sure, but not a particularly rewarding one in the sense that expectations haven't been so much as met rather than accommodated here. Early singles such as ''Shelter Song'' were exciting for evoking memories of Temples' peers while allowing their own modern indie chic to sneak in underneath the surface, but too often here the band forgo any sense of adventure or expansion, instead settling for repetition as they single mindedly attempt to recapture the spirit of Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles and countless other favourite bands of theirs without attempting to develop their own sound. At times Temples one way approach, in fact their refusal to fluctuate from praising their own rock gods, is pretty charming, while also slightly naive.
That's not to say however, that the band don't do a good job of revisiting vintage territory, in fact they're incredibly adept at crafting Jefferson like songs with an indie twist, and they can count themselves now worthy members of the revivalist movement alongside its leaders and probably Temples biggest direct influence Tame Impala. But the lack of diversity and experimentation shown on Sun Structures is what compresses Temples and threatens to put them in a box of tribute acts where they don't deserve to be, because what is immediately obvious from this debut aside from the source of this young band's style is their technical ability, intelligence and will to create. Ironically, it seems that Temples obsession with a genre renowned for mind expansion has actually stunted their own development and growth.
Overall, what we have in Temples debut is an incredibly vivid, almost hallucinogenic painting of the psychedelic rock landscape, that officially introduces us to an intriguing new UK band. Temples will hopefully now draw from these beginnings and implement their own style further over these retro vibes to continue refreshing and revitalizing the old with the new in greater, more unexpected ways.