After extensive festival touring and studio time, English psychedelic band Temples is back with its newest album, “Volcano,” released on March 3. Temples, known for its pioneering sound in the modern psych-rock scene, delves into intense, otherworldly synths and the familiar crooning of guitar and singer James Bagshaw. Unlike their first album, “Volcano” seems less psychedelic and more synthetic on the initial listen.
The first track on the album, “Certainty,” begins with a flood of bright, thrumming synths and delicious keys, a sound that is unique to this album for Temples. However, it still keeps with some of Temples’ ‘60s sound, obviously drawing endless inspiration from bands like The Beatles. “Certainty” reaches just the right levels of energy and dreaminess, balanced with enticing riffs and fading out with roaming synthesizer.
Another stand-out track, “Mystery of Pop,” starts out with an addicting beat and also pairs with mystical, dazzling keys. However, the song is cut with a darker edge that adds enough musical variety to prevent an entirely uniform sound. It’s one of the more upbeats songs on “Volcano,” with fast vocals and a quick tempo—it’s a pleasurable, happy listen that would start any day right.
“How Would You Like To Go?” is quite possibly the best track on the album—Bagshaw’s vocals soar into unknown dimensions and take us there with him. The song beckons the listeners, calling them with a siren song that is peppered with gorgeous synths and an eerie undertone that hints at something alluringly dangerous. “How Would You Like To Go?” is absolutely, thoroughly beautiful—listening to it feels like watching a sunrise on another planet. The synth in this song is something exquisitely alien, and when the chorus hits, it is a crescendo of magnificent sounds that causes stirrings in the heart and tears in the eyes. This track will surely, and rightfully, be a favorite.
However, despite the new sound for Temples, “Volcano” pales in comparison to its predecessor “Sun Structures.” “Sun Structures” hit at the origins of the modern obsession with psych-rock, and inspired dozens of new bands that take influence from Temples. The addition of synths on this album is an interesting new take, but takes away from Temples’ original instrumental mastery. To be fair, the album may also appear to be less ingenious due to the explosion of psych-rock; if everyone is creating music of the same genre, is it really that ground-breaking? Even though “Volcano” doesn’t quite hit as hard as “Sun Structures,” the album is still worthy of respect—Temples went in a slightly different direction from its original sound, and it is clearly well- crafted. The keys are absolutely gorgeous, dripping with sunshine, and the synth does meld well with Bagshaw’s vocals. All in all, “Volcano” is a good album by any standards—it just isn’t Temples’ best.