There is absolutely no pressure anymore to show any originality in the field of Rock, Pop or even Electronic music for that matter. Temples are a cool band, with good songs and a preference for sixties sounds, reverbs, arrangements etc, modelled on that magic era we all know and love from The Small Faces to The Kinks, Hendrix, Cream and all the rest – Temples are simply a mixture of all bands you know and love from 1966 onwards. Does it matter? I’m not sure it does, because if you can find the secret of expressing original music in the context of guitars, that can attract more than an avant-garde audience – then you’d be the first for a very long time. But still, how can Revolver, a record made nearly 50 years ago sound more ground breaking than any guitar band in recent memory? It’s like it’s the template, but surely it was a beginning not an end?
Temples are from Kettering in Northamptonshire and are a classic psychedelic rock four piece formed by singer/guitarist James Edward Bagshaw and bassist Thomas Edison Warmsley (can that be his real name?). After securing a record deal with Heavenly Recordings they enlisted Sam Toms on the drums (can that be his real name?) from Koolaid Electric Company and Adam Smith on keyboards (and looking at the video) occasional guitar. They are up and running – looking great and because of some decent songwriting sounding like they might possibly be able to find some success in the ephemeral world of Indie Pop Rock. And after a long run up with three singles released since 2012, we now have their debut album.
Shelter Song, the opening track was the debut single from 2012 and it starts with an electric 12 string guitar riff straight out of the sixties songbook (and then the early eighties revival songbook) it takes you straight to the era but then you realise that this sounds new to the hip indie kids, just like Boards Of Canada does to the electronic kids. And it’s not that today’s teenagers aren’t willing to go back and find all those gems from decades ago, they are happy to discover Traffic, but they don’t seem to mind that Temples are doing that kind of thing some generations removed – in fact they seem grateful! Temples don’t actually put much of a new slant on it all either? They are really good at it, and that seems to be enough for the fans. They do write some interesting songs and the title track Sun Structures is straight out of the time machine jukebox complete with backwards guitar, reverby vocal and riffs that mimic riffs that you already know.
And then comes a really fantastic song – Golden Throne for all its homage to the sixties, is a classic that someone forgot to write back then. Maybe sounding like an era isn’t so bad if you are actually writing songs that are as good as the era in question – right? These days we can sound like any era by the push of a button on a computer. Sixties guitar sound, eighties drums, seventies bass, it’s all there and if you were born in 1995 and you are 19 today and completely get computer technology and your Dad’s record collection then one thing will ultimately lead to another. So I don’t blame them and when I hear them write a great song because they realise there’s more to it than just sounding like those iconic bands, then I feel more comfortable about the whole affair – even though it is an affair – a love affair with timeless music that all the generations since the sixties have been unable to shake off.
Keep In The Dark is the latest single, it’s a bit like T. Rex, not as good unfortunately but one hopes that as they jump from the sixties to the seventies that they write this song again but analyse Marc Bolan’s magic period more closely. Not that this is bad, it’s just not magic and surely that’s what they are aspiring to be looking at their influences.( Nice harp at the end).
Mesmerise and Move With The Season are different kinds of songs but both with strong melodies – that’s their forte and that in itself makes them unique, it’s like you are just waiting for them to grow a limb of their own – a branch that they can investigate on their own terms in the same way that Tame Impala might, adding an ingredient that hasn’t been added before – and then they might be really something.
Colours To Life was the second single and it’s one of the best songs on the album, strident, chiming electric 12 strings with a Blue Oyster Cult feel about it, lovely rolling sixties toms and keyboard beds with that 12 string piercing through like a knife through satin.
A Question Isn’t Answered starts with claps and echoey vocals and then gets kind of folky Gaelic but Bagshaw makes it all his own, there’s also washes of keyboards and a fuzz effected guitar lead and little extra interesting worked out parts – guitar lines that go somewhere.
The Guesser has that late sixties bluesy pop thing, it could be early Fleetwood Mac or John Mayall and then it could be The Zombies or one of the Beat Groups – Rhythm and Blues and Pop simultaneously – but guess what, it has a really strong and memorable melody – and of course effected organ in tons of reverb.
Test of Time has hooky melodies galore and the washes of reverb, Sand Dance something of an Eastern flavour, you know – like Psych bands tend to have. This whole album has everything that bands like this tend to have, early Floyd keyboards are everywhere, reverb is everywhere, the sound of the drums – everything.
The album concludes with Fragment’s Light something of an ode that Queen Elizabeth l might have written if electric guitars, fuzz boxes and reverb had been around then, but I wonder if whilst contemplating such a bizarre scenario whether Elizabeth would have been comfortable playing the same kind of psychedelic music in 1542 when she was 19 that her father Henry Vlll had been grooving to in 1510 when he had been 19 – the mind boggles at the thought!