Monday, 10 February 2014

REVIEW: Temples - 'Sun Structures' (Heavenly Recordings)

Away from the spotlight of the mainstream, the last few years have seen the growth of a new psychedelic movement which has taken alternative music back to more interesting and ambitious places. Following on from the successes of The Horrors and Tame Impala as well as the emergence of many other nu-psych acts comes the arrival of a band who could take the whole thing to new levels. Temples only formed two years ago and have since blazed their way to critical acclaim with a number of outstanding singles, all of which are present on this, their awe inspiring debut album. 

Songwriters James Bagshaw (vocals/guitar) and Thomas Warmsley (bass/vocals) were previously members of mod revivalists The Moons, so a fondness for retro is something the pair have been known for. But there's a vitalising power in the music of Temples that transcends it above being a mere replica or imitation of the past. If anything, it invents its own version of the present, reconnecting with the far-out vibes of the 60's while bringing new ideas into the mix and always employing a refreshingly forward-thinking approach.


On the opening 'Shelter Song', when an infectiously entrancing Byrds-like 12 string riff kicks in, along with those booming drums and reverb-drenched vocals, you know it's a sound that will find its way into your head with immediate effect, and this corking introduction certainly isn't the last time that this Kettering-based four piece are going to be invading your headspace. Not one track is wasted, and as well as being a collection of individually brilliant songs, 'Sun Structures' is a masterfully sequenced LP that shines in its entirety. The driving cosmic collision of the title track throws more massive echo-drenched drums behind snapping eastern riffs and intense, spooked organ before we are treated to the addictive hooks, dark resonance and graceful melodic mysteries of 'The Golden Throne'.

The incredible 'Keep In The Dark''s trippy swagger rises upwards into a delirious singalong chorus as stomping glam rock meets theremin, sitar and shades of 'Sgt Pepper' in a retro-futuristic wall of sound. It's another highlight, but to call it that would be unfair to the rest of this fantastic LP, where the high quality songs just keep coming. The unstoppable momentum of the trailblazing 'Mesmerize' highlights their talent for twisting memorable melodies into otherworldly creations and elsewhere, woozy guitar lines and airy harmonies drift across a dusty, laid-back groove on the blissed-out melancholic swoon of 'Move With The Season'. 


The spectacular 'Colours To Life' is without a doubt one of those songs that suits its title, a dazzling explosion of bright light allowing the sight of magical scenery before leading you down a mysterious passageway, then hitting you with a tremendous stratospheric chorus. The omnipresently massive drums, resounding fuzz bass and catchy repetition of direct hooks during 'A Question Isn't Answered' combine to deliver another staggering moment, while the shining 'The Guesser' sounds familiar yet fresh, an intoxicating blend of West Coast atmospheres and Zombies-esque 60's pop sonically viewed through a 2014 lense.

The dizzy headrush of 'Test Of Time' rides on vibrant waves of euphoria, with blossoming arrangements producing bright bewitching sensations. It also demonstrates their use of the studio as an instrument, something even more remarkable when you learn that this album was self-recorded in a room at Bagshaw's house. The moody power of the heavy, hypnotic Eastern-flavoured epic 'Sand Dance' grows larger by the minute until it reaches a stunning instrumental coda bursting with swirling guitars and sensational mellotron. The delicate acoustic introspection of 'Fragment's Life' makes for a haunting finale that showcases their dynamic qualities. 

By embedding an ear-catching sense of melody into their music and wiring the past to the present in an imaginative yet accessible way, Temples have raised the bar. The new wave of 21st century psychedelica produces a modern classic. 9/10



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