The high of older times fades with Sun Structures

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Don Tomes

English rockers Temples’ first full length album, Sun Structures, fits 60’s psychedelic rock into a refined indie rock structure.

Temples was formed in 2012 by singer-guitarist James Edward Bagshaw and bassist Thomas Edward James Walmsley. Surprisingly, after two years of existence, they have not gained the attention of major radio stations despite considerable press attention, as well as an endorsement from the guitarist of the Smiths and Modest Mouse, Johnny Marr.

I first heard the band at Lollapalooza on a whim. For better or for worse, a considerable portion of the recent 60’s rock revival hinges on the band’s aesthetics, and Temples is no exception. Indeed, it was the aesthetics that drew me in: hazy eyes peered out from underneath unkempt hair and patterned silk shirts as sunny fuzz-pop guitar licks flowed over the crowd of neo-woodstockers. I watched a few minutes of Temples’ set before passing on, but my interest was sparked.

I decided that to fully participate in the 60’s psych rock aesthetics I had to listen to Temples on record, so I headed over to Reverberation Vinyl and picked up a copy. The record spun and what sounded like the first few seconds of the Baby’s “Midnight Rendezvous” floated out of my speakers before transforming into a 60’s psychedelic pop-rock sound. Catchy choruses and clean riffs had me nodding my head along to the sound in no time.

Early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett, a more upbeat Zombies Odyessey and Oracle, Byrds, and Beatles circa Rubber Soul quickly came to mind. Temples’ nods to these psychedelic giants of the past is spot on, complete with mystic lyrics about desert rituals and moon amulets. But the year isn’t 1969 and I’m not on acid: the strong opening tracks fizzled into mediocrity as the record progresses.

Synthesizers, guitar effects petals, and voices ahhh-ing follow the 60’s psych rock template down to the measure, rarely diverging from what has been done before. By the middle of the second side of the album I had become rather bored. To put it simply, there is only so much speak of kaleidoscope visions, stained glass proverbs and desert journeys that one’s ears can take in a single listening session.

Nonetheless, I would go to see Temples live again. Are they the next big rock band as some critics rave? Probably not, at least not at this rate. Temples is, however, a welcome homage to old school psych-rock in a not yet cluttered revival movement. Fans of Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates of Dawn, Syd Barrett’s solo work, and the up and coming neo-psychedelic bands, give Sun Structures a listen, particularly “Shelter Song,” title track “Sun Structures,” and “A Question Isn’t Answered.”

Temples have expanded their minds (or so their music suggests) but I would like to challenge them to expand their sound as well. 60’s rock is one of my favorite musical genres, but Temples comes across as more of a talented tribute band than truly innovative musicians. Taking pointers—but not exact chord progressions—from their fellow 60’s psych rock revivalists Foxygen, Allah-Las, and Tame Impala would do them much good and help them to transcend beyond being a cookie-cutter 21st century 60’s band.