Temples - Exotico

Regular price $ 26.99

Over the course of their first three albums, Temples made a strong case that they could be considered the premier psychedelic band of their era. Marrying big, hooky songs with a bright and punchy sound that was both sufficiently spacey and insistent, they put all the pieces together in a way few others could manage. They were also a fairly self-contained unit, recording at home with the band's James Bagshaw producing. That changed with 2023's Exotico, which they recorded in upstate New York with producer Sean Ono Lennon, whom they had worked with remotely on the 2021 neo-disco single "Paraphernalia." That track was mixed by Dave Fridmann, whose CV includes a long list of satisfied clients ranging from the Flaming Lips to Tame Impala. The band brought him back for Exotico, too. During the writing and rehearsing process, the group sought to bring all their various influences together and reformulate them in new ways. They turned to Lennon for help in expanding into reconstructed sonic territory as well, and he gave the band full access to all the funky keys and sound-making devices he had in his studio, as well as jumping in to add the occasional musical assist.

With all the thought behind the album's creation and the effort put into the recording, it would be nice to report that the results were stunning. Unfortunately, at some point along the way something got lost in translation. It could have been the band failing to come up with many songs that have the same sharpness and kick of their previous best work. Far too many of the tracks here sound like faded copies that float past like pleasant, unremarkable background noise. The few that do stand out do so for the wrong reasons, like the vaguely Led Zep-esque, ornately bloated "Cicada" or "Inner Space," where the band try to sneak off with some of Altin Gün's Anatolian psych mojo. It could be that working with Lennon wasn't a wise move either. His contributions don't add much to the overall sound, and the record lacks the immediacy and dynamic flow that Temples had in spades when Bagshaw was at the controls. Another likely suspect is Fridmann, whose mix is buffed, layered, and polished to the point where the sound begins to blend together into an overwhelming, stadium-sized wave instead of making any kind of tangible, memorable impression. Of course, it's hard to turn not very interesting original content into something special in the mixing process. Still, one does have to wonder if the songs would have had more impact if they were a bit less produced and mixed. Ultimately, the fault lies with everyone involved, and their combined efforts lead to an album that is nice to have playing while idly doing household chores but is unlikely to inspire too many repeat listens.

2xLP On Pink Vinyl

A1 Liquid Air
A2 Gamma Rays
A3 Exotico
A4 Sultry Air
B1 Cicada
B2 Oval Stones
B3 Slow Days
B4 Crystal Hall
C1 Head In The Clouds
C2 Giallo
C3 Inner Space
C4 Meet Your Maker
D1 Time Is A Light
D2 Fading Actor
D3 Afterlife
D4 Movements Of Time