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CD of The Week

Week of 4/17/23

    Temples - Exotico (ATO)

    Entering their second decade as a band, Kettering, UK's Temples have just released their fourth album of neo-psychedelia with their signature mix of futuristic vibes and warm, sunny nostalgia. Entitled Exotico, the band describes it as "an adventurous travelogue exploring a utopic island of the same name as each song marks stops along the way." Concept albums don't always work in this shuffle age of music consumption, so Temples leans more into a thematic journey for these 16 songs finishing in just under an hour. Producer Sean Ono Lennon curates Exotico with a melting pot of influences from Eastern rhythms and instrumentation, 60's lounge, 70's prog, and 80's synth-pop, all while keeping Temples in line with modern dream-pop contemporaries like Tame Impala and Real Estate.

    Lead singer/guitarist James Bagshaw and his mates Adam Smith (keys, guitar, vocals), Tom Wamsley (bass, vocals), and Rens Ottink (drums, percussion) are clearly having fun with hip indie singles like "Gamma Rays," "Inner Space," and "Afterlife," but opener "Liquid Air" sets the tone with a big fuzzy bass groove and reverb-y sound effects. At six minutes, it never wears out its welcome. "Cicada" adds real-life insect noises to the rhythm rather than as a background, while "Oval Stones" is jauntier and the perfect soundtrack to splashing in the pool or sea. Of the 16 tracks, three are instrumental interludes. Two of these could very easily be the outros for the songs that precede them, but album closer "Movements In Time" is the perfect send-off with its blissful space-age bachelor pad mood.

    Lyrically, Temples explores themes of spirituality and existentialism, but oftentimes, the words become additional sonics adding more atmosphere to these trippy tone poems. Not quite as enigmatic as of Montreal or The Flaming Lips, Temples utilizes big hooks and sweeping pop arrangements to deliver the listener to their sunny utopia filled with breezy, hazy days and exotic nights full of dreamy memories. On occasion, Exotico feels repetitive, but Temples keeps the listener engaged with their creative and eccentric process, always waiting to see what spacey trip is around the corner.

    Temples will be live in concert at Underground Arts in Philadelphia on Wednesday, June 7th.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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