Release Date: Feb 11, 2014
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
There was a time when a recommendation from Noel Gallagher or Johnny Marr carried a bit of weight, but somehow their statement about Temples being the best band in Britain sets off some alarm bells. After all, both have shown some poor musical judgement in the past. But it turns out that they actually might be right: Temples is really, really good.Sun Structures is an incredibly strong debut.
There’s something magical about Kettering’s Temples, even before you’ve heard them. Lead singer/guitarist James Bagshaw’s appearance is topped by the most amazing curly mop-top that recalls the iconic Marc Bolan, and he fronts a confident crew of youngsters that scream “we’re in a band, and we’re bloody good” without a whiff of arrogance. Judging by their debut album Sun Structures, it’s hard to argue.
Dig out your suede jacket and dust off your Beatle boots: Temples and their debut album Sun Structures are dragging the jingly-jangly psychedelic pop sound into 2014, and you need to hear it. There have been a whole host of spaced-out psych acts crawling out of the woodwork since Tame Impala showed everyone that swirling five-minute slowjams don't have to be the kind of self-indulgent prog knobbery that most people associate with psychedelia; of all of them, Temples have one of the purer and poppier approaches to that original '60s and '70s sound. Whereas bands like TOY and Younghusband have mixed their psychedelic leanings with more experimental drone elements of Krautrock and shoegaze, Temples seem to have decided that if it ain't broke, there's no point in fixing it.
Bubble perms and mystical medallions. Crushed-velvet shirts and sparkling silver blouses. Psychedelic fractals and crystal mascara tears. A bassist who’s the spit of a young Rodriguez and tassels all over the shop. Aesthetically, Temples are clearly the lizard kings of the new psychedelia, peyote ….
Temples are four young lads from Kettering who for all purposes sound like they just popped in from 1967 after a short trip on a paisley-bedecked TARDIS. They don't miss a single sonic trick; from soaring 12-string jangle to backwards-tracked guitars, flowing vocal harmonies, swooning Mellotrons, and baroque organ interludes, they know their musical history like they lived through it. Their 2014 debut, Sun Structures, is a nostalgia trip for sure, while at the same time sounding totally modern too.
It would be easy to write off Temples as retro-loving hippies who likely don't own any records released later than 1969. Their recent singles teem with kaleidoscopic psychedelia and Beatles harmonies, and their November set at the Horseshoe was too brief to show much well-roundedness. Their velvet blazers, turtlenecks and wild hair, meanwhile, only added to the throwback vibe.
Taking cues from the past and the present like near-contemporaries Hookworms, Goat and Tame Impala, Temples instead bring with them a flag that boasts a reappraisal of quintessential British rock, rather than a shared psychedelic consciousness. There’s a heavy amount of pomp, ceremony and display throughout ‘Sun Structures’, but it never translates as ostentatiousness. The drums give the record its due drama, with debut single ‘Shelter Song’, ‘Colours To Life’ and the title track all sprightly, swooning and mesmeric.Vocalist James Bagshaw embodies a riddler or a Sphinx (if you will) pursing his rich vocals through transparent melodies and surging rhythms.
Opinions are usually louder when there are fewer of them. And when trying to piece together the art of songcraft, the first thing that comes to mind is how it compares to similar offerings. Equally championed and maligned is the deep-rooted history of psychedelic music, which will forever be associated with a feeling of reminiscence. No other sound gets an instant impression of archeological curiosity, which makes it especially trying to achieve in a modern format without describing it in an outmoded context.
Does everyone remember Wolfmother? The Zeppelin worshiping Aussies that released two pretty solid albums and found Guitar Hero fame? They were a band that rejected modern musical ideals (outside of production work) and dedicated themselves to making albums that seemed to have time warped its way from the ‘70s. If you want to get a proper idea of what UK outfit Temples is all about just replace “Zeppelin” with “The Zombies” and you’ll have a pretty good picture of their sound. Temples have been dropping songs since 2012 like the trippy “Shelter Song” which sounded like Django Django transported to the late 1960s.
"I wrote a song for thee," frontman James Edward Bagshaw offers on this U.K. band's debut. As his archaic address implies, Temples play mid-Sixties psych rock at its most archly transporting. Every swirling fuzz tone, cathedral-organ bleat and Harrisonian Rickenbacker run is perfectly placed. There ….
It's a fair bet that when Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr shower praise on a new band, their sound will be rather more wizened than their appearance. So it proves with Temples, who, unlike neo-psychedelic peers such as Tame Impala, are less interested in the groove-warping possibilities of modern production than in turning back the clock. There's a precise, borderline pedantic love of mid-60s period detail here: echo-laden drums, drone-and-handclap intros and sun-bleached vocals riddling cosmic truths.
The opening seconds of Sun Structures – a descending, acid-soaked guitar riff – spell out Temples' manifesto perfectly. Along with Heavenly label mates Toy and Stealing Sheep, they're part of a guitar band psych revival. And with their fondness for backwards guitar and reverb, they're the most faithful of the bunch, skipping across canonical touchstones from T-Rex to the Byrds' Fifth Dimension.
Noel Gallagher of Oasis, squinting recently at the bounteous musical landscape, dubbed the new Kettering-based quartet Temples "the best new band in Britain." If you've read anything about Temples, you've likely this already absorbed this fact. That is because—and forgive the bluntness—Noel Gallagher's endorsement is easily the most remarkable thing about Temples, who offer a studious recreation of psychedelic rock so devoid of an individual personality that the only way to discuss them is to check off the high-profile industry legends who have endorsed them and the legendary records they crib from. This sounds harsh and damning, but Sun Structures is not a bad album.
Kettering’s Temples are devoted students in the ways of psychedelia. This is a band who know their shit when it comes to getting the keyboard sounds just right, double tracking the vocals just so, letting the guitar sit in the mix just here, and creating rolling moods through the rhythm tracks. They’ve listened to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ a hundred million times (probably backwards, which would make some sort of sense), they know the differences between the crunchy, darker sound of British psych, of early Floyd and Soft Machine, Arthur Brown and Their Satanic Majesties, and the freewheeling, acid rock of the American bands, of the Doors and the Seeds, Electric Prunes and the Grateful Dead.
A first glance at Temples suggest that they are something that's hardly ground-breaking in the grand history of pop music. The quartet's look harks back to a time when you could spend limitless time on the dole smoking roll-ups and endless practising in a pub back room - one of the band may even have a vague interest in astrology. Meanwhile the singer has the air of someone who has been growing his hair against some form of establishment, while keeping an eye out for psychedelic blouses in British Heart Foundation shops.
Commendations from Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher, labeling you as the best new band in Britain, surely is the dream? What a sign of approval. With names like that behind an act, you may as well give up listening to anything else. In all honesty, Kettering’s Temples are a bit brilliant. They take ’60s psychedelia, ’70s prog.
Marissa Nadler, July Marissa Nadler’s limnetic new album, July, is both eerie and soothing, a lullaby written to induce nightmares. Burrow deeper and the odd hallucinatory qualities reveal themselves; images blend, fade and reform with no real discernible pattern. This album is composed of memories, the kind that your mind tries to reshape over time to shield you from what really happened.
The psych-pop revival is in full bloom these days, fueled at least in part by the young’s nostalgia for a ‘60s youth movement that Internet niche-listening has virtually eliminated as a cultural fixture. No matter, though, as bands like this Kettering, England quartet build on the warm textures of Spectorian pocket symphonies and psychedelic pop sensibilities for their own compositions. On the strength of their debut 7”, Temples gathered endorsements from British rock royalty like Noel Gallagher, Robert Wyatt and Johnny Marr, and parlayed some impressive U.S.
Temples Sun Structures (Heavenly) The alluring jangle of a Byrds-like 12-string riff on "Shelter Song" opens the book on this UK psych-pop quartet in promising fashion. Even if stripped of its spot-on incantation of Sixties transistor bliss, the subtle backbeat, strategic hand percussion, and bucolic vocals would keep this sun-speckled earworm from losing its sizzle. The driving, echo-laden title track finds extra lift with a clever, fuzzed-out stutter step that connects the verses to the chorus.