Temples is the newest addition to the sudden revival of the psychedelic scene that features the likes of Jagwar Ma, Tame Impala, and Grizzly Bear. In mid-2012, James Bagshaw and Thomas Warmsley formed Temples in the town of Kettering, Northampshire. Temples received its big break after uploading four songs to YouTube, including the standout “Shelter Song.”
I have a distinct memory of hearing “Shelter Song” for the first time; it hit the radio waves just as I was coming down from Tame Impala’s brilliant sophomore album Lonerism. “Shelter Song” features call-and-response verses followed by the beautifully optimistic chorus, “Now I know the lonely days are gone/ Don’t you know that I can see/ Like the summer day that’s always long, we repel the wet of tears.” After hearing this, I was ecstatic about the prospect of a great new psychedelic band, and I began to follow Temples religiously.
Temples garnered even more hype when Noel Gallagher, the former front man of Oasis, claimed that the emergence of Temples was even more important than an Oasis reunion. Suddenly Temples was touring with well-established rock bands like Kasabian, Suede, and The Vaccines.
In order to satisfy the incessant demand for new music, the band began to work on an album, releasing singles as it went. While this rush helped Temples to capitalize on the buzz surrounding them, it also marred the final product.
With the release of each single, I found myself undergoing a similar process. During the first few listens, I lavished in the textural landscapes, reverberating guitar riffs, and syncopated drums. However, after many listens, I ended up losing my appreciation for the song. After being underwhelmed by “Colours to Life” and “Keep in the Dark,” I relinquished my hope in Temples.
After forgetting about Temples for a few months, I came back to the band when it released its debut album, Sun Structures. Ultimately, Sun Structures falls somewhere in between the potential that I felt when listening to “Shelter Song” and the complete lack of faith I felt after their next two singles. “Keep in the Dark” grew on me after more listens, and I ended up enjoying many of the other songs, albeit less than I hoped to. “Mesmerise” features a catchy chorus followed by a killer riff that mirrors the melody. The best part is the bridge, during which the song slows down, and Bagshaw asks, “Do you say/ What you feel at the end of the day/ In your heart?”
Even though “Mesmerise” sounds great, it suffers from the same lack of creativity that plagues the rest of the album. The riff is excellent, but could have been included further away from the chorus, which plays the exact same notes. Sun Structures captures the sounds of the psychedelic era with precision, but it fails to do much more than that. As a result of flat songwriting and generic song structure, the album fails to entertain as much as it could.
I have not fully given up on Temples, because I think the hype and pressure may have caused them to release an album that minimizes their songwriting talents. Unlike most bands that release their debut album by selecting from the best of a bevy of tracks recorded over a long period of time, Temples had to create tracks on the fly. I still enjoy “Shelter Song,” the one song they created before the pressures of a deadline were imposed on them.
I hope that when Temples goes back into the studio, they spend an inordinate amount of time songwriting and come back with a follow-up that taps into their enormous potential. Until then, Temples serves as a cautionary tale against the dangers of rushing a product.