Temples – Volcano Album Review

Enjoyable

6.5

Volcano is the sophomore album of the psych-pop band from Kettering, England, released on 3rd March 2017 via Fat Possum Records.  It’s been 3 years since their first work “Sun Structures” came out. Being it one of the 2014 “Rough Trade Albums Of The Year”, their new release “Volcano” was quite awaited in the psych-pop community and was anticipated during the winter by two singles: “Certainty” and “Strange Or Be Forgotten”.

We left the band with a strong sixties-oriented sound, animated by a sharp riffing style played with nostalgia goggles. What happened is Temples really didn’t want to sound as they did in 2014 and didn’t want to publish another psych rock album with the exact same sound.  “Oh The Saviour” was the first song brought to the table, and at the time the four-piece from Kettering didn’t have clearly defined ideas about the crafting process of the sound. Temples just felt the urgency of evolving, soundwise. As a consequence, this new record shows very few links to what Sun Structures was, mixing their sixties influences (Pink Floyd, Beatles and The Byrds above all) with progressive sonorities. Good examples are the mild flutes on “(I Want To Be Your) Mirror”.

“Volcano” erupts blurry, fairy-tale synth melodies and danceable bass lines. The record itself is a proof that surely Temples have been experimenting and they’ve added new elements, working with synths and trying to expand their 60’s vibe that mainly characterized their first work. It sounds accessible and pop, with much more space than their 2104 release, sounding very airy.  As far as production goes, “People can’t call this – a sixties retro record – because it’s more forward-looking than back-looking” states lead singer James Bagshaw.

Even though almost every track could stand on its own and has quite nice sparks, the problem is hidden in the full listening.  The record as a whole gets boring after a while and cannot rely exclusively on the ear catching sound or on the strong will of sounding modern. Everything is soaked in reverb to the point where it sounds too artificial. It feels a bit less inspired and lacks the style which animated their very first musical effort. Guitar is left in the background, in favour of more fashionable keyboards, at all costs. 

In comparison with “Sun Structures”, “Volcano” flows slower. The set of tracks is built to sound more massive on a live set, which it does indeed and has a more interesting range of dynamics, production-wise. Temples, overall,  work great on this as far as atmosphere and sound go, and the record is homogeneous through the listening. Nevertheless, the will of sounding modern is a bit over-exaggerated and the final result is a record which sounds good and shows potential, but leaves blank spaces soon filled with dullness. The quartet proves to have fine pop sensibility, and the final result is enjoyable, but they sometimes fail to reach the solidity of other contemporary acts.

As outlined above, Temples prove they’re capable of making good hooky psychedelic pop music indeed, but with Volcano they lacked in the songwriting and fail to really stand out in the genre.

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