Temples – 'Sun Structures' album review

The retrofetishist foursome from Kettering produce an impeccably crafted but strangely lifeless psychedelic pop debut

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

James Bagshaw needs to get out more. His band Temples recorded their debut album in his mum’s spare room in Kettering, and although it’s a hugely impressive record of warm, retro psychedelic pop, there’s something a little too neat about ‘Sun Structures’.

Other psych revivalists, such as Australian groups Tame Impala and Pond or Temples’ labelmates Toy, balance their knack for immersive production with the thrill of the wig-out live show. Temples go for a more tasteful approach. From what we can tell, they’ve spent countless hours doing two things: a) bidding on vintage kaftans on eBay; and b) painstakingly perfecting ’60s-style drum sounds and crafting melodies that channel The Byrds, The Zombies and early T-Rex.

To some extent this approach pays off: there’s a definite time-warp charm to ‘Sun Structures’s array of booming tom-toms, psychedelic organs and chiming guitars. Early single ‘Shelter Song’ kicks off the album with an impeccable Beatlesque melody, whereas ‘Keep in the Dark’ and ‘A Question Isn’t Answered’ are punchy glam stomp-a-longs with nifty vocal harmonies. ‘Test of Time’, meanwhile, gives Bagshaw’s voice a chance to transcend the Lennon/Bolan tribute circuit.

There’s even the odd track where Temples really take off. ‘Mesmerise’ and ‘Colours to Life’ boast spinetingling, sparkling chord changes and some of the strongest choruses on ‘Sun Structures’, while the album’s title track breaks down after three minutes, blasts off into a space rock jam and then reconstitutes itself with impressive discipline.

Yet when Temples prove they can be this genuinely exciting, it makes it even more frustrating to hear them flip back into ho-hum retrofetishism on strangely lifeless tracks such as ‘The Guesser’ and ‘The Golden Throne’.

It’s enough to make you wonder exactly what’s the point of the whole enterprise. ‘Sun Structures’ is a Fabergé egg of an album: it’s glorious and gleaming, and the level of craftsmanship on display boggles the mind – but what exactly can you do with it?

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