March 3, 2014
Record Reactions: Temples – Sun Structures
Welcome to Record Reactions, where I share my thoughts on a new release from the worlds of popular and independent music. Today’s record is Sun Structures, the debut record from British rock band Temples.
It’s been 50 years since The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and cemented their place in music history. For the three decades that followed (and ever since), their music set the standard for pop, rock and roll, and even psychedelic music as the world followed them through their musical development. We all know the story of The Beatles. And we all love The Beatles. That’s why it’s been so fun to take a collective trip down memory lane as we recall the original black and white, jangly, and ever so accessible sounds of classics like I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
The heir-apparent to popular British music, Arctic Monkeys, commemorated the event by playing a cover of All My Loving at their shows, including a spot at Madison Square Garden. The legacy of The Beatles and British indeed rock lives on. And that’s why the new kids on the block, British alternative rock band Temples, had such excellent timing in choosing to release their debut album Sun Structures at this time.
Initially started as a duo between lead vocalist and guitarist James Edward Bagshaw and bassist Thomas Edison Warmsley (who also takes the award for best name), Temples uploaded rough early takes at songs onto YouTube in November of 2012. Soon they developed a following and interest from record labels. Fast-forward to 2014, and they have added a drummer and keyboardist, and with the release of Sun Structures, are making critics swoon with their well-informed, pleasant indie rock.
Temples will doubtless grow tired of comparisons to the Fab Four, and for good reason. But comparisons are still going to be drawn – there are too many vocal harmonies and guitar tones that are so reminiscent of 60’s-era Lennon and McCartney. But that is not always a bad thing, and there are other connections to be made here.
The low-key thump and delievery of The Golden Throne actually matches up best with the Arctic Monkeys. And around the edges of their sound Temples also make new moves, using pedals, synths, and production techniques to create a swirling, misty environment that The Beatles only sniffed at in their more psychadelic years.
For a stretch in the middle of this album, Temples take on an entirely new style. Keep In The Dark is good showcase of the edge and upside potential these guys have. The groove here isn’t a typical one, and they arrive at points in the song in interesting ways: dwindling guitars and repeated, droning vocal lines, eventually resolving to a catchy melody. The same innovation is on display in the following track Mesmerie, with its instantly recognizable and energetic guitar and voice melody, as well as the gorgeous guitar layering found on Move With The Season, and ghostly vocal harmonies on Colours To Life.
Thematically, Temples mix musical themes from the past with lyrical themes from present, young, college-aged concerns. Sometimes, that can manifest itself in a lack of lyrical depth (“you came on over to me, we had a drink or three.”), but that is not always a negative aspect. And these twelve tracks can begin to wear on a listener; their length often stretch longer than five and even six minutes. But again, these are nitpicks, and Temples are a very entertaining listening experience.
Temples are not a Beatles or Arctic Monkeys tribute band. There are more associations to other acts that can be made, but this music is not devoid of original inspiration or thought. Rather, Temples have infused the best aspects of British rock sensibility – shimmer, thump, attitude, and catch – into a completely assured and confident debut effort. And the best link to John, Paul, George, and Ringo that can be made is that these guys have a serious ear for a hook – almost Beatles-esque.
Favorite Tracks: Mesmerie, Colours To Life
Remember these reviews are just my opinion, and that little number up there doesn’t mean much! Have you heard this album? What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me? If you would like to let me know your opinion, you can hit me up on my email, or tweet at me @RobinCopple1. I am dying to know what you think! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the flipside! Stay tuned.
Image Credit: Temples / Heavenly Records