Temples’ ‘Volcano’ LP is an Eruption of Psychedelic Melody

The British psych-rock band's 'Volcano' LP bursts with monster hooks and labyrinthine harmonies

temples band

Photo by Ed Miles

Temples make the kind of sunny monster psych-pop that travels through time, racing through centuries of harmony in thrilling sequences at new frequencies. The potions in the twelve songs of Volcano (due March 3rd) are too potent to lie dormant. And the formula sounds enormous – Temples weave timeless, catchy vocals over tight jams. James Bagshaw, Thomas Warmsely, Adam Smith and Sam Toms make simple sound good.

Volcano is Temples’ second self-produced album for Fat Possum Records. This is a record that points to the sky, confidently identifies constellations, and transports the listener there. The single ‘Certainty’ shifts its gravity from funk to lush chorus. Lunar drums in ‘All Join In’ zoom away into the cottage window of ‘(I Want To Be Your) Mirror’, a harpsichord prelude that pixilates into a Pacific surf beat sung in cascading psychedelia. The execution of these arrangements is intoxicating.

Chords change moods on ‘Oh the Saviour’ where a special melodic dynamite goes off with the lyric “Standing up like a wild impala / Standing down like a weekend martyr”, an F-sharp minor to a C diminished that growls with an awakened magic. ‘Open Air’ has you holding the roll bar of a jeep bouncing past chainsaws that might be keyboards. The guitars won’t sit still. ‘Mystery of Pop’ is a masterpiece of Bach architecture, a frenzied dance around a feverish minor that might conjure the curated sets of a Wes Anderson film.

temples band volcano art

Temples ‘Volcano’ LP cover

The last thing you hear on the record is a gorgeous guitar rippling in delay, running off wild into the woods after reveling in the voltage and decibels.

From song to song, the cohesion is invisible as vintage synths and amplifiers make textures out of sample-able grooves. Every buzz and hum exists to exalt the vocal and drive the hook. The bass and drums thump in perfect bumps. The motorik pulse of ‘In My Pocket’ isn’t an artifact or an accident. If you hear Marc Bolan, it’s in a new galaxy. It’s the Kinks from a sunken galleon at the bottom of the ocean or in a gymnasium with walls shaking from the echoes. In a stretch of modern records where some don’t unlock more than the first few levels of harmony, Volcano is labyrinthine, traveling with master keys to doors some songwriters never open in a lifetime.

The closer, ‘Strange or Be Forgotten’, has a hell of a title even though the shimmering lift of the song is anything but peculiar. Maybe it’s a warning said when high, a promise made by lovers, to take what you find and make it yours.

In just a few years, Temples have grown beyond local lore into a powerhouse, but any visitor to their island had always known there was a volcano there, waiting.

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