The album’s opener and their debut single, Shelter Song is 12-string heaven, a song The Byrds or The Beatles never wrote. And no, you won’t spot any copycat tactics: Temples capture the vibe, without taking the actual music of their influences. Sun Structures delivers strong melody after strong melody, with not a single parody to be found. The band boast an unusual gift, and that’s the ability to create the essence of the mid-to-late ’60s psychedelia, without ripping anybody off in the process. No clichés, just strong material. The sound may be familiar, but the tunes are all theirs.
Also included is the band’s brilliant second single, Colours To Life (released on 10” vinyl last year), with its chiming guitars and piercing organ. Another great quality of the album in general is its bright sound quality. It’s self-produced in the singer’s house, but it doesn’t necessarily sound like it. It’s got the rawness and a feel of immediacy, without it sounding trashy or having any obvious garage qualities. The glam-rocky Keep In The Dark (also a single) is another highlight, with subtle string arrangements and a chorus that screams ‘classic song’, without actually reminding you of anything in particular. The drums are prominent in the mix, pounding behind the dreamy vocals.
(Louder Than War)
No, but seriously. Sun Structures is the best slice of neo-psychedelia since Tame Impala’s Lonerism, an album which was essentially ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ if it was 50 minutes long – and sounded like it took around 50 years to make. Temples take a different route through the psychedelic tunnel: a more conventional embrace of pop melodies, wrapped in kaleidoscopic effects and heavily-treated percussion. Imagine a supergroup consisting of Marc Bolan, Ray Manzarek and all the Beatles except Ringo, and you have a crude picture of the essence of Sun Structures. Underground music’s recent psychedelic obsession has been –arguably – dogged by ignorance of pop, the heart of the genre’s origins. Instead, cool, but ultimately meaningless, noises and effects have mostly prevailed, generally catering to the chemically-addled and fervently nostalgic (see the last TOY LP for more). Temples change all this.
But isn’t a genre called ‘neo-psychedelia’ inherently nostalgic? Perhaps, and it would be decidedly stretching the truth to declare Sun Structures a total break from the usual 60s influences. ‘Shelter Song’ takes the bounciness of The Byrds and George Harrison’s enchanting guitar strums to construct the best testament to that era of this decade. Elsewhere though, the Kettering band reference more contemporary sources; the colourful riffery of ‘Move With The Season’ recall Oasis’s Dig Out Your Soul album, while ‘A Question Isn’t Answered’ clearly derives from Steve Reich’s obscure avant-garde work, Clapping Music. ‘Sand Dance’ incorporates sitar more smoothly than Kula Shaker ever did, and while the notably voluminous drums become a little worn-out 11 songs in, they take a unique emphasis in a genre usually focused on stringed instruments. One thing it doesn’t sound like is a début album. Ultimately, Temples adhere to neo-psychedelia’s proper intentions: not copying, not completely original, but very much an update and a welcome innovation.
17.02.14 Hamburg, Übel & Gefährlich
18.02.14 Berlin, Bi Nuu
20.02.14 Frankfurt, Zoom