By Cordelia Milward
It honestly came as a surprise when I first heard Temples tipped on the radio as the next best thing to reinvent psychedelia. Not because I thought their music inadequate of such a claim, but because I could not believe their retro sound could be contemporary of this decade. It is true that recording with vintage equipment gives their music that distinct sound of the past, but when Temples stepped on stage at Gorilla you might have been fooled that a T-Rex tribute act was about to perform (with James Bradshaw on lead vocals and guitar shrouded in a hood of curly locks and glitter, looking uncannily like Marc Bolan). With no debut album in sight as of yet, Temples‘ sold out gigs perhaps come as just as much of a surprise to them as it does to us, demonstrated by Bradshaw’s genuine shock at the size of the audience – ‘f***ing hell there’s a lot of you’.
Psychedelia can often be difficult to digest, but whilst the songs of other bands such as Tame Impala are inclined to digress on stage in a state of hallucination, Temples manage to stick to the coherent side of experimentalism. Beneath the echoing vocals and ethereal backing keyboard there is always a recognisable tune, giving every song a sense of purpose. Shelter Song and Keep in the Dark sound so catchy it’s impossible to believe they haven’t been written already by someone else. That’s not to say they’re unoriginal, but instead illustrates how focused Temples‘ song writing is in establishing a coherent tune, from which their psychedelic improvisation can be built off. Without this well established platform, songs such as Sun Structures had the potential of invoking a hallucinogenic state so dreamy your mind wandered far away from the focus of the music. However the intrigue caused by the snake charmer lull of Prisms or the guitars on Ankh mimicking the sound of some electric organ on Blackpool Pier, brought the audience back to reality. With few words spoken and each song seeming to float into the next, their narrow catalogue seemed to end pretty abruptly, perhaps giving reason for the lengthy improvised jam that closed the set.
It’s clear where Temples get their inspiration from with their ‘Lucy In The Sky’ trippiness, but Temples aren’t the only band currently recreating this 1960s psychedelia. It’s difficult not to compare them closely to the likes of Toy or Pond as the self-titled genre of ‘neo-psych’ becomes increasingly popular and more and more boys think it’s ok to grow their hair longer than their girlfriends. But as Temples prepare to accompany Primal Scream on tour in December, it will be interesting to see what direction they head in and whether they are able to avoid the categorization of attempting to reinvent a genre that ought to be left to the original pioneers.