Review Summary: Psychedelic?
Temples are an English indie rock outfit that describe their music as ‘psychedelic’, which has always been a slightly ambiguous term. The same notion of vagueness applies to Temples’ debut album, as although they throw in a few wacky sounds, wear their 60's/70’s influences on their sleeve, and opt for kitschy production choices, the music they make is essentially indie rock that hints at psychedelica without ever succumbing to its excesses. In other words, Sun Structures is not a blazed out, experimental piece of work but a slightly more colourful and trippy shade of indie rock, and works solidly on such a promise with easily digestible structures and melodies intact.
Temples could easily appear as passable retroists at a glance but such a glib assessment is unfair. The production is smothered by a layer of distortion - the shrill vocals, pounding drums and effervescent guitars are deliberately covered by a thin veil of dust to perhaps hint that Sun Structures is, or wishes to be, a psychedelic record that sounds as though it could have been recorded in the genre’s classic era. But for the most part that is as kitschy as it gets, other than the bands appearance or the album cover artwork.
Although Sun Structures undeniably reeks of the past its retroisms transcend the mere level of kitsch and gimmick because the music is hooky, sharp and highly pleasurable on its own merits. ‘Shelter Song’s slippery guitar and reverbed vocals call out from the late 60’s and latch infectiously onto those caught in the airwaves; ‘The Golden Throne’ marches along on fuzzy guitars and faux drama, and the exotic riffs and kinetic arrangement of ‘Sun Structures’ also makes for a winner. Also pleasurable is the psych-blues of ‘Keep in the Dark’, the vibrant ‘Mesmerise’ and the shimmering, mysterious ‘Sand Dance’. The album as a whole is very solid and whilst around half of the tracks aren't quite as exciting as those mentioned above none are truly poor or weak when it comes down to it.
Ultimately, Sun Structures may not be all that psychedelic and Temples may not have crafted something truly mind-boggling but when their compositions hit the right vibe the result is vibrant and exciting indie rock, so who could really complain? Psychedelic is a vague genre and Temples’ heart appears to be in the right place so switch off your mind, relax and enjoy the highlights from this sturdy and colourful debut.
Highlights: Shelter Song; Sun Structures; The Golden Throne; Keep in the Dark; Mesmerise