Temples – “Volcano” (2017) review
Temples – Volcano (Fat Possum Records, 2017)
There’s no way I’m saying that the music found within the grooves of Volcano isn’t good, what I am saying is that it’s not at all what I’d expected from all the hype.
Riding on the heels of their 2014 stellar achievement Sun Structures, an atmosphere for a new version of psychedelic folk to ride in … where I was instantly reminded that I hadn’t listened to early T Rex in years, with this release also bringing to light early David Bowie and the Syd Barrett’s years with Pink Floyd, to whom the band obviously owes much. Barry Nicolson said, “Temples employs subversive humor and acid-fried absurdity, as the Temples themselves are masters of surface level psychedelia.” And to be honest with you, I’ve no idea what that statement means, because the Temples are not laced with psychedelia, or acid for that matter, ‘less of course one considers the AM radio smoother psychedelic meanderings that washed the airways, riding on the coattails of the truly psychedelic during those heady years of the latter 60’s.
Others will point to the ringing endorsements of both Noel Gallagher and Johnny Marr, citing the band as top flight actors of the British psych movement, and while that may be true on their original outing, Volcano comes off as more of an engineering and production state of mind rather than from an actual psychedelic experience, relying on an expansive spacey attitude sparked by woozy meaningless effects, fuzzy guitar work and synth driven solos. Keeping that thought in mind, you’re gonna find that each song opens with some sort of sonic effect ‘designed’ to be trippy, though in reality it isn’t, it’s just a series of effects that gets weary over time. If anything, on this outing the Temples come off as some sort of space-glam, and anyone who’s been around for any time at all, knows that glam music for the most part was rather empty, relying on the glam aspect to carry it through.
Yes, the Temples are cute as butter and mostly go down just as easy, yet melt in the sun, leaving you with nothing but a stain on your favorite pants, wondering what you can take home and treasure from any of their albums. Of course I’m fully aware that Sun Structures hit the world with lavish and critical responses and acclaim, charting high in more that eighteen countries, sending the Temples on a relentless world crusade and going on to become the larges selling vinyl album of 2014 … though that simply proves to me that people are hungry for neo-psych music, and are more than willing to setting for less than they should, though how the Temples manage to feel anything less than embarrassed by this followup is beyond me. Of course James Bagshaw goes on to say that they were going for a more distinctive sound … though again, I’ve got no idea what that means in relation to this release. Others will tell you that it takes more than a few listens for you to appreciate everything that’s going on within and around these songs, though to me that’s just a copout, after all, I’ve never heard anyone say that one needs to eat a few burgers before they can appreciate the subtle nuances of flavor. Straight fact: Things either work on the first listen or they don’t. Certainly one may hear more within the tracks over time, but it certainly does not become magically wonderful on the third or fourth spin.
You’ll find no symphonic arrangements here, nor will you be jettisoned into the stratosphere, yet alone find anything that resembles emotional invocations of rapture, or overtures laden with flights of fantasy. Adriane Pontecorvo has said that the Temple’s affinity for psychedelia is an authentic one, one that only seems to blossom more as the years pass. And again, please tell me how this album is blossoming over the years when at the time of this review , the album so recently arrived at my door?
Take the Temples as you will, but just don’t take them too seriously, because as the years roll on, despite what other critics heaping phrase may say, over the years the album will only blossom into a “What was I thinking,” moment.
From their entire catalog … these are the worthy songs for considerations, songs that show the essence of what they should be striving for: “Shelter Song,” “Move With The Season,” “Colours to Life,” “A Question Isn’t Answered,” “The Guesser,” “Sand Dance” and “Keep In The Dark.”
– Jenell Kesler
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