Temples, formed in 2012 and releasing their first album in 2014, are odd in that their music is currently somewhat unique, and yet in 1970s, they would have sounded nothing out of the ordinary. Drawing inspiration from the psychedelic era , Temples offer a blast from the past for those alive to experience it first hand, and a relatively unique musical experience for those of the youngest generation.
Signed to Heavenly records for the entirety of their career insofar, Temples share their record label with massive mainstream bands such as Manic Street Preachers and Saint Etienne, but also smaller, underappreciated acts like the Welsh singer H. Hawkline. Temples certainly fit the bill as one of the bands signed to the label who have experienced a meteoric rise in popularity since joining, performing on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in 2014. They’ve also been praised by Oasis’ front man Noel Gallagher; though whether you think that is a boost or a hindrance to their image is up to you.
Temples’ previous album, whilst being hailed as a dedicated and detailed replication of the 70’s psychedelic style, was also found to lack personality. A complaint with their debut album (Sun Structures), was that you could tell nothing about the band nor the singer through their music. Whilst it wasn’t necessarily BAD, it just wasn’t GOOD either. There was nothing within the lyrics of the music itself that wanted you to learn more about the band and their lives, whilst other musicians who write more ‘to-the-bone’ music (the likes of Daniel Johnston and Vic Chesnutt) tend to be listened to for longer, and their audience more dedicated. Sun Structures was enticing on first listen, and exciting for a few months. However, after the initial hype around the album died down, so did the frequency with which it was listened. These reviews and this gradual decline in the reputation of the album was certainly something Temples would want to eradicate with their latest album release: Volcano.
Volcano, released on Heavenly records, clocks in at a pretty standard 48 minutes. Within this time, Temples showcase their usual musical style, once again drawing heavily from the psychedelic era. Whilst their influences are the same, the newest album does possess slightly more originality.The introduction of an almost electronic feel to some of the songs on the album is a drift away from the heavily guitar based debut album, and this is certainly a good thing, modernising the psychedelic genre. Incorporating a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar, the new album produces feelings of both nostalgia and excitement at listening to something ‘new’. Songs like ‘Oh The Saviour’ undoubtedly possess hints of Pink Floyd, though what era is hard to say. Nonetheless, the familiarity is hinted rather than in your face. Oddly, Temples introduce an almost Mod feel to their music with songs like ‘In my Pocket’ which strangely resembles the music of ‘Small Faces’. Finally, ‘(I Want To Be Your) Mirror’ smacked of a poorly produced nod to The Velvet Underground and Nico, and yet one can be pleasantly proved wrong upon first listen. Whilst the song isn’t one of the standout performers on the album, it also isn’t just a cheap imitation.
It would seem Temples have successfully answered their critics with Volcano. Whilst they refuse to move away from producing music reminiscent of past eras, they add a newfound hint of personality which is surprising at first to the long-term listener, who expected yet another bland recreation of music of the psychedelic era. However, to say Temples have produced a contender for album of the year is to get overly excited by their latest release. Temples have succeeded in trumping their previous album, however, they still have work to do before they can push into the ranks of the musical elites who will be listened to for years to come.
Temples should consider themselves lucky there is no Unicode symbol for a half star. I give this album three stars.
Release date: March 03, 2017
Play time: 48 mins
Standout track: Oh the Saviour