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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Temples - Sun Structures Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 03.24.2014


My 2014 Reviews:
In chronological order

Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust EP [8.0] // Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0] // Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0] // Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0] // Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0] // Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0] // You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth [5.5] // Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides [6.5] // Of Mice and Men - Restoring Force [8.0] // Within Temptation - Hyrda [8.5] // Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow [8.0] // The Rifles - None the Wiser [5.0] // Skindred - Kill the Power [7.0] // Katy B - Little Red [9.0] // The Family Rain - Under the Volcano [7.0] // Clare Maguire - Clare Maguire EP [7.0] // Behemoth - The Satanist [7.0] // Wild Beasts - Present Tense [10.0] // Beck - Morning Phase [9.5] // Issues - Issues [7.0] // Fanfarlo - Let's Get Extinct [4.0] // The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever [3.5] // Indica - Shine [5.0] // Grand Magus - Triumph and Power [6.0] // Nina Nesbitt - Peroxide [9.0] // ††† (Crosses) - ††† (Crosses) [6.5] // Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron [8.0] // Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0] // Silversun Pickups - The Singles Collection [8.0] // The Fray - Helios [4.0] // Kid Cudi - Satellite Flight: Journey to Mother Moon [9.0] // Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0] // We Are Scientists - TV En Francais [6.5] // Major Lazer - Apocalypse Soon [2.0] // Rick Ross - Mastermind [7.5] // Real Estate - Atlas [8.5] // Comeback Kid - Die Knowing [7.0] // Reverend and the Makers ThirtyTwo [8.5] // Broken Bells - After the Disco [6.0] // Blood Red Shoes - Blood Red Shoes [5.5] // Metronomy - Love Letters [9.0] // Architects - Lose Forever // Lost Together [6.0] // Elbow - The Take Off and Landing of Everything [6.5] // Kamchatka - The Search Goes On [8.0] // Sisyphus - Sisyphus [8.0] // The Pretty Reckless - Going to Hell [7.5] // Skrillex - Recess [1.5] // Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is [7.0]

Temples are:
James Bagshaw – vocals, guitar
Thomas Warmsley – bass
Adam Smith – keyboards
Sam Toms – drums

TemplesSun Structures

Track listing:
1. Shelter Song
2. Sun Structures
3. The Golden Throne
4. Keep in the Dark
5. Mesmerise
6. Move With the Season
7. Colours To Life
8. A Question Isn't Answered
9. The Guesser
10. Test of Time
11. Sand Dance
12. Fragment's Light
Running time: 52:48

Temples are one of those bands that are so spectacularly destined for success by the know-it-alls in the offices of your favourite indie and alternative publications that it's difficult to take everything on board from debut album Sun Structures without having a constant feeling of “oh, is that it?” in the back of your mind. I mean, if the kind folks at New Music Express told me six months ago that a band's debut record is going to be one of the best things I hear all year, then who am I to judge? Of course, for every time these people get it right, there's four of five fledgling bands lost in a sea os broken promise and regret. But in the instance of Temples, the band's endorsers are many. The band has already managed to secure support slots with Kasabian, Suede, and some up and coming band called the Rolling Stones. And Noel Gallagher has said they're the best thing since sliced bread. Or the best thing since Tame Impala, whichever. If you're keeping score at home, Noel is the Gallagher that doesn't talk shit. In comparison to Liam.

The inherent problem with Sun Structures isn't that the record doesn't live up to the hype, so much as you feel it's a record made with a very clear idea of who it wants to impress and how. I mean, if you listen to these guys in interviews, they come across as four very honest, very humble young men who happen to have a wonderful taste in music. They don't just learn from their influences though, they go out and try to replicate them in ways that are so choreographed you wonder if Temples hasn't completely missed the point altogether. It's clear from the first listen that members of this band are big fans of the likes of the Zombies and the Byrds, and of course the Beatles. But it's almost as if James Bagshaw and co. show their predecessors a little bit too much respect, afraid of trampling on hallowed ground and instead they chose to tip-toe around the headstones, creating pleasant enough but ultimately unfulfilling rock music that pays homage to the psychedelic genre more than it progresses it. Call it the Wolfmother syndrome. If a band doesn't wish to really push the envelope and create a sound that's all its own, then I'm sure they could pick up a few bookings as a very successful tribute band.

But let's not be too negative. Album-opener “Shelter Song” is full of charming melodies that will appeal to both fans of the genre and casual listeners. And there are some pretty left-field chord changes in stand out tracks like “Mesmerise,” and it's these moments that make it quite clear that Temples have something here. The vocal harmonies on display on the rocker “A Question Isn't Answered” are as good as any other band is pulling off in 2014, including label-mates Toy who seem to have gone under the radar as modern pioneers. “Colours to Life” features one of the best choruses on the album and is one of the few memories of Sun Structures that will stick with you long after you've put this record down. In these instances, the band shows signs of life and gives an indication that yes, there is a long term plan and that this band does have a sound all its own. If only these instances were more frequent there'd be no problem. At 55 minutes, the album should offer more than it does. Once upon a time a band like Temples would be able to get away with this, but at the moment there are plenty of other bands who are doing it better.

I guess the problem is that so many bands are diving into the genre, and others are dabbling it quite spectacularly, that it's almost essential for a band like Temples to do something, anything, to set itself apart and that isn't really the case with Sun Structures. I previously mentioned Tame Impala, who are recreating this sound with much more confidence and competence than Temples have achieved here. You look at a band like the Horrors who have similar influences and elements of the same sound but who play with the genres characteristics just enough to make it new and exciting. Tame Impala's Lonerism was rightly heralded as one of the best albums of the last several years while the Horrors' Luminous released in a few weeks will likely attract similar praise if early indications are anything to go by. Sun Structures on the other hand is an attractive debut if its goal is to introduce someone to the genre. Unfortunately the brightest moments from the record are those that have been floating around for a good while now – the title track has been available for two years and for all its shimmering guitar riffs and soaring vocals, it's not the highest of peaks for a band with so much promise. What is clear is that Temples are an able outfit of good song-writers and better musicians. What the album lacks is spirit and originality. It lacks balls.

Temples - “Mesmerise”

The 411: Temples are the latest band to try their hand at emulating the psych rock sound of the mid-60s but unlike some of their contemporaries, they fail to put their own spin on things. Temples' debut album Sun Structures offers up perfectly adequate mid-60s psych rock that does a good job of transporting us back to a more care-free time. The problem is, we'd like to go forwards not backwards. I guess the artists of the era Temples replicate were a little more free spirited, or shall we say “enlightened,” and that allowed the music they made to go spiralling off in all different kinds of intriguing new directions. There's nothing unexpected about Sun Structures as Temples remain firmly within their comfort zone. And that's absolutely find if you want a record to put on in the background on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but if you're looking for something more adventurous, look elsewhere.
Final Score:  5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend


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