Review Summary: A decent if somewhat flawed psychedelic pop album that shows promise for the band’s future.
It seems that recently there has been a never ending stream of 60s-influenced, yet contemporary, psychedelic pop bands emerging from all areas of the globe. Many of these acts were undoubtedly inspired by the recent surge in popularity towards bands such as Tame Impala and Pond, who have been at the forefront of the current psychedelic scene in Australia for a good five years now. On the other side of the Pacific, last year saw breakthrough releases from a number of relative new comers from the US such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who received a fair amount of success with the release of their second album, ‘II’. So where does that leave British new comers, Temples? Well, much like many of their contemporaries, Temples are a band very much in need of an identity of their own. Having released their debut EP in 2012 and another EP in 2013, Temples have been slowly building up to their first full length, this year’s Sun Structures, an album that ultimately lacks any distinctive character but one that does show plenty of promise.
Temples’ debut album is a collection of mostly well-crafted psych-pop songs that takes influence from the likes of The Beatles, Spirit and of course modern bands such as Tame Impala. The best representation of Temples’ strengths comes in the form of the album’s title track, a five minute piece that typifies the band’s ability to combine catchy, melodic hooks with trippy, psychedelic musicianship. The song closes with a two minute instrumental section very much dominated by frontman, James Bagshaw’s fuzzy, distorted guitar playing, providing one of the album’s more psychedelic moments. At the other end of the spectrum, The Golden Throne relies more on its infectious chorus than it does on the band’s psych influences, whilst still possessing various psychedelic subtleties that run through much of the album.
Sadly the band is unable to maintain the energy levels and quality of song writing heard in the album’s first three songs, with many of the album’s remaining tracks failing to live up to the heights of the infectious groove of album opener, Shelter Song, or the psychedelic qualities of the aforementioned title track. That’s not to say that the rest of the album is without highlights, Colours To Life is a gloriously transcendent track which is as trippy as its title would suggest, while Sand Dance hints at a level of creativity that could have greatly benefited many of the album’s other tracks. On the other hand, A Question Isn’t Answered plods along monotonously and doesn’t really go anywhere, while Test of Time is a prime example of the band’s need for identity, possessing nothing even remotely memorable or different.
Flaws aside, Sun Structures sees Temples deliver a solid dose of psychedelic pop that, despite leaning heavily on the band’s influences, both old and new, has a certain charm to it that is hard to resist. One thing that stands out about Sun Structures is the production, which has a depth to it that highlights the band’s clever layering of instrumentation as well as their effective use of double tracked vocals. Also impressive is the way in which the band have incorporated Adam Smith’s keyboard playing into the mix, adding extra depth to the music and contributing to the psychedelic backdrop that underpins much of the album’s sound.
Overall Sun Structures shows moments of real promise that suggest that if the band were to adopt a more adventurous and creative approach they may be able to elevate themselves to greater heights and perhaps carve out an identity of their own. Whether or not they will remains to be seen.