There’s something magical about Kettering’s Temples, even before you’ve heard them. Lead singer/guitarist James Bagshaw’s appearance is topped by the most amazing curly mop-top that recalls the iconic Marc Bolan, and he fronts a confident crew of youngsters that scream “we’re in a band, and we’re bloody good” without a whiff of arrogance. Judging by their debut album Sun Structures, it’s hard to argue.
When Bagshaw joined forces with bassist Tom Warmsley, the duo began putting some home demos together, subsequently uploading tracks to Youtube. Before long Heavenly Recordings, home to Saint Etienne and TOY, had snapped them up. Realising their ‘project’ had now risen to an unexpected level, two more locals were recruited to flesh out a full band – Adam Smith (keyboards, guitar) and the appropriately named drummer, Sam Toms.
The demos included Shelter Song – originally intended to head a download EP; its infectiously hypnotic guitar line introduces the album, sounding of Eastern origin and recalling the psychedelic late 1960s. There is, of course, a significant psych revival occurring worldwide with stablemates TOY making waves in the UK alongside Australia’s Tame Impala and Pond amongst others, as well as the plethora of American and Canadian bands that have been successfully swimming these waters for some time.
But evident from the outset is the fact that Temples are not limited to hazy, monotonous drone fests or fuzzy guitar vibes like some other psych-heavy bands. These boys favour catchy, hook laden tunes, returning an often missing ingredient back to the genre – pop sensibilities. Shelter Song’s guitar riff may hook you but the pop melodies throughout reel you in to leave you wondering if this is actually a lost song from 1967.
And things don’t let up: the title track follows with driving bass, pounding drums and atmospheric snake-charmer like synths leading to a fascinating guitar riff injection that repeats throughout. With vocal harmonies and eerie synths floating around a second exciting guitar riff, this is another winner; the album has already spawned four singles but surprisingly this isn’t one of them.
Another of the original demos arrives next – The Golden Throne. After a strangely Egyptian, psychedelic introduction the song weaves into another catchy, synth-backed chorus. The first half of the album continues in impressive fashion with two more singles next up: firstly, Keep In The Dark starts like a Kasabian track, bouncing along rhythmically into a jaunty chorus and a heavenly, harp sounding finale. Mesmerise then bewitches with its Beach Boys vocals and bells before the slower Move With The Season soars and swoons in a fairytale dream state.
The second half of the album begins with the superb single Colours To Life, a mesmerising, repeated guitar melody is joined by sweeping synths and then pounding drums and bass. A hypnotic bridge then precedes a killer chorus topped off with another perfectly placed guitar riff – if ever there was a moment to sell Temples to a new audience, this is it.
The handclapping intro of A Question Isn’t Answered leads to a slow organ heavy plod, its huge fuzzy riff the only moment here of any similarity to their Australian peers. The Guesser is another sprightly affair that conjures up a ’70s fantasy island image and Test Of Time’s energetically executed drums propel the song to a soaring bridge and addictive chorus as another potential single reveals itself. Sand Dance sounds ideally named, a chinking soundtrack to accompany a trek through an Eastern desert before the sub two minute medieval guitar musings of Fragment’s Life bring the album to a mellow conclusion.
Endorsed by Noel Gallagher, Johnny Marr and Brett Anderson, it’s easy to see why Temples are highly thought of. They’ve since supported Suede, Kasabian and even The Rolling Stones and are ably holding their own in such exalted company. Perhaps unusually for an album these days, Sun Structures is a compelling listen throughout its 55 minutes, holding together perfectly as a whole with strong tracks dotted throughout. Temples are clearly set to bring in a fair few new worshippers.