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For music fans, the city of Liverpool instantly conjures images of THAT band. You know them… They had the hair and the mustaches and made those albums that defined modern western music and wrote about a yellow submarine and Strawberry Fields… Anyway, THAT band played a pretty key-role in the psychedelia scene in the sixties but, by that point, they had moved from their humble home to the hustle and bustle of London. Liverpool, however, never lost its love for lysergic acid pop. Case and point being the two days in late September wherein Liverpool hosts the International Festival of Psychedelia, lauded as “the UK’s largest celebration of psychedelic sub-culture.” However, even the largest celebration still isn’t enough to take into account every nook and cranny of modern psychedelia.
While the invasion of the mainstream is afoot with Flaming Lip acolytes such as MGMT and Tame Impala ensnaring large clubs and arenas, more and more bands on the psychedelic sojourn are gracing the covers of magazines and the top lines of festivals.
Temples only formed in mid-2012, but their music has quickly spread throughout England through intense word of mouth praise from some of England’s biggest rockers. “The future of the galaxy depends on the Temples record,” mused Noel Gallagher, going on to say that “if [that album is] right, the imperial forces will be defeated.” Johnny Marr recently picked their debut single, “Shelter Song,” as one of his songs of the year in a recent issue of Mojo, stating that “they sound like they’ve got a good future, they know how to make a good record and you want to hear more.” Coupled with high-profile support slots with the likes of Primal Scream, Suede and The Vaccines, Temples don’t really need BBC’s Radio 1 to round up new fans.
Par for the course for any ambitious British band, cracking America is at the top of the list, and Temples are intent on making their mark early on. Without any opening band, Temples took to Great Scott and played a storming eight song set. Considering their current discography consists of three singles, an eight song set was almost a surprise as the band treated us to a number of new songs off of their upcoming debut album, Sun Structures.
Opening with a quick one-two punch, the title track rolled around a quick riff before evolving into short Neu!-inspired, krautrock interlude while opener “The Golden Throne” was a softer, Piper at the Gates of Dawn-esque borderline lullaby filled to the brim with sharp pop hooks and heady harmonies that float around gurgling synths and renaissance-era keyboard scale runs. At their best, Temples’ take flight in a way very few newer bands can. “Mesmerise,” their forthcoming single, almost immediately launches into a massive, gliding chorus that is accented by a stabbing bass and quicksilver guitar line that leads into a beautiful bridge that threatens to trip you into a technicolor void.
“Colours to Life” is right at the intersection between brit-pop and psychedelia, with trippy and gliding synths meeting 80s jangle pop. Temples have the right sensibilities to stay away from the pastiche acts that bands such as Kula Shaker peddled back in the day. Despite singer James Bagshaw’s uncanny likeliness to Marc Bolan, Temples seem intent on forging their own identity through a kaleidoscope view on 60s pop and 70s glam with modern production values. Second single, “Keep in the Dark,” retains that classic glam dream beat but quickly leads into a swooping mess of reverberated drums and vocals with a western cowboy film slant that would make Lee Hazelwood proud.
Most of the crowd already knew their debut single, the Byrds-inspired “Shelter Song” and its b-side “Prisms, and responded in kind with rapturous applause. With their debut album coming out next year, one can only hope that Temples continue their psychedelic sojourn while still having enough time to stop by and play a few tunes.