NME Review: Temples - 'Sun Structures'
The Kettering revivalists’ debut is the full psych package - minus the drugs
Bubble perms and mystical medallions. Crushed-velvet shirts and sparkling silver blouses. Psychedelic fractals and crystal mascara tears. A bassist who’s the spit of a young Rodriguez and tassels all over the shop. Aesthetically, Temples are clearly the lizard kings of the new psychedelia, peyote-chewing riders on the storm, born pop stars out to precisely mirror their antique San Fran acid-rock sounds with a look that couldn’t be designed to get more beatings around the pubs of Kettering if they added a Piers Morgan mask. The model lovechild of Jim Morrison, Marc Bolan, John Hassall and Timothy Leary, singer James Edward Bagshaw is a true cosmic dancer, but he’s no fool either, with one keen eye on dragging the psych revival chartward.
“Take me away to the Twilight Zone!” sings Bagshaw in honeyed, hallucinogenic tones on the opening ‘Shelter Song’, but it’s clear tonight that his real destination is the arena stage. Throughout this hazy, charmed hour, Temples mingle note-perfect ‘Nuggets…’-era references – The Electric Prunes, 13th Floor Elevators, The Monkees’ ‘Head’, Love, ‘Rubber Soul’, The Byrds, The Zombies and step-inside-the-kaleidoscope Tibetan drones galore – but never once take their foot off the melody pedal, making ‘Mesmerise’, ‘The Golden Throne’ and ‘Test Of Time’ sound like modern rejuvenations of psych in the same way that The Last Shadow Puppets gave orchestral ’60s lounge pop a blast of musical Optrex.
Bagshaw’s tendency to spout arcane guff about the Odyssey, desert rituals, buried crystals and dancing on the stones is pure hippy mimicry. Sonically, though, this is a fresh and energised ’60s homage. Aside from distorting their guitars until they sound like walruses mating in tribute to new psych commanders Tame Impala, they add Arabian grooves to ‘Sand Dance’, pastoral Byrdsian tones to ‘Move With The Season’ and glam tinges to ‘Keep In The Dark’, right down to the tiger-footed stomp, glittery handclaps and honking horns.
The only real failing of ‘Sun Structures’ is that, for all its mythical summonings of Woodstock, Hair and the age of Aquarius, it doesn’t actually sound like it does any drugs. Not a nibble. At no point do Temples craft the sort of brand-new noise that could only have been made by four thoroughly ‘enlightened’ young men sitting in four individual fridges, each peeling a differently coloured mongoose to try to recreate the sound they can hear coming from their shins. But you build a firm framework before trying to shatter it, and ‘Sun Structures’ is as solid as they come.