Release Date: Oct 15, 2013
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Chillwave
Solo projects: the brainteasers of the world of pop music, they can be perplexing in the extreme. Listening to solo records has a tendency to devolve into a game of spot the difference. Where are the similarities to the artist’s previous work? Where have they attempted to deviate and daringly out some individuality? And listening to luke temple’s latest record, Good Mood Fool, is no exception.
Luke Temple is taking another break from Here We Go Magic, and his fifth solo album is like salve for the soul. When the Brooklynite’s graceful songwriting combines with his shy falsetto it creates moments of uncommon beauty. The bluesy ‘Hard Working Hand’ and the ’80s soul of ‘Katie’ might not sit right with his indie fanbase, but tracks like ‘Florida’ offer the kind of sublime, folk-informed pop that makes Temple such a singular voice.
Luke Temple’s songwriting template has followed a decidedly circuitous path throughout the late ’00s and early ’10s. Beginning with fairly conventional troubadour fare on a few excellent solo albums which showcased his beguiling vocals, he veered off course and crafted the homespun eponymous Here We Go Magic album in 2009, subverting his nonpareil pipes with tape loops and sundry nifty recording techniques. The act evolved into a full-fledged band, and recorded with Nigel Godrich on last year’s A Different Ship, embracing a jammier, Kraut-infused sound.
After spending most of his career in music making gentle indie folk under his own name and slightly weird indie rock with his band Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple takes a total left-turn on his fourth album, Good Mood Fool. Recorded at a cabin in upstate New York with help from Mike Johnson on drums and Eliot Krimsky on synths, the album casts Temple as a crooner who hovers somewhere between Steely Dan and Billy Ocean on the smoothness vs. soul spectrum.
The muse is always right. This is something I firmly believe. Artists should follow that devilish sprite wherever it takes them. With this recent album, Luke Temple has done that to an extent that his old fans just might not believe. To put it bluntly, he sounds nothing like himself on Good Mood ….
Luke Temple has a history of country-tinged solo records, songs sometimes knowing, sometimes pleasantly worn and maudlin, with his bigger statements expressed via his band Here We Go Magic. Last year’s jittery, krautrock-leaning A Different Ship was even produced by THE Nigel Godrich, who’s a fan. But Good Mood Fool is a very different proposition, guitars sidelined in favour of synths, which sometimes take on a neon, garishly Eighties glow.
Luke Temple already had two LPs to his name when he formed Here We Go Magic in 2009, and that band's self-titled debut is, by most measures, a solo record; only on closer "Everything's Big" does Temple find himself backed by a full band. Over three subsequent LPs, Here We Go Magic became a proper band, subject to all the checks and balances that go along with group democracy. To hear Temple tell it, Good Mood Fool, his first solo LP since Here We Go Magic's launch—his 2011 effort Don't Act Like You Don't Care was recorded before the release of HWGM's debut—never would've made it as a Magic LP; had Temple tried to inject Fool's synth-heavy dalliances with reggae, 80's R&B and lite-funk into Here We Go Magic's twinkly kraut-folk, he would've found himself swiftly outvoted.
It’s hard to accuse Luke Temple of running dry on ideas. The singer-songwriter discovered his musical spark after struggling as a visual artist in New York and, since then, he has injected his schizophrenic character into each of his albums. From the folk songs of debut ‘Hold a Match for a Gasoline World’ to the Field Music-ish grooves of ‘A Different Ship’ – recorded with his band Here We Go Magic - the Brooklyn songwriter has won fans all over, including Thom Yorke.Temple continues this shape shifting tradition on his latest solo effort.
After the release of Here We Go Magic’s latest effort, the Nigel Godrich produced A Different Ship, frontman Luke Temple jumped back into the studio to indulge in a playful new direction not found in his band’s discography or his three cerebral folk solo offerings. Bringing only the bare essentials with him, Temple recorded Good Mood Fool using just a bass, a drum machine, a Juno 1 synth, and the instrument that carries the record—his voice. When Temple is singing with Here We Go Magic, his soft vocals provided an extra layer to the band’s highly-textured sound, rather than acting as a driving force.
These days, all anyone does is talk to me about Downton Abbey. I walk into Londis and the shopkeeper says to me, "Did you catch Downton last night?" I mutter a half-hearted 'no', but he isn’t listening. He just wants to talk to me about Downton Abbey, like everyone else does. "Doesn’t Julian Fellowes do a truly wonderful job in exposing the hang-ups and double standards of the British class system?" the shopkeeper asks, as he changes the till roll.
Luke Temple is a soul man, or at least he aspires to be. His new album, Good Mood Fool, might have been conceived in the rustic environs of a tiny cottage in upstate New York, but it sounds more urban than suburban, rhythm and blues rather than folk or roots. As a follow up to his efforts under the moniker of Here We Go Magic, it’s even bolder still, a provocative blend of big beats and a soaring falsetto that Michael Jackson might once have liked to claim as his own.