Temples at Shacklewell Arms

December 3, 2012

Friday night in the Shacklewell Arms is usually busy but tonight it is rammed. Getting into the evenings free Temples show is a weird, passive aggressive experience; a couple of hundred people deploying sharp elbows, sneaky toe stepping, and blatant shoving, all masked by the thin lipped pretence of ‘having a good time’. Luckily SupaJam are old lags at this kind of gig hustle, and quickly ensconce ourselves front and centre to see what all the fuss is about.

The first thing that comes to mind when you see Temples, is that there hasn’t been an indie band this good looking since The Strokes got a generation of indie chicks a-quivering. Lead singer/ guitarist James Bagshaw looks the spit of Marc Bolan, curly mop and all, and bass player Thomas Warmsley projects an effortless cool. In some other, shitty parallel universe they could have been a boy band, which may go some way to explaining the number of excited looking girls in the room.

Musically however, we’re not dealing with some sort of indie land fill nonsense- the band have got a tight handle on psyche pop, playing chugging mid tempo grooves that spiral off into the cosmos and beyond. There are elements of Strawberry Fields era Beatles, as well as Sid Barrett whimsy, alongside a slightly kitsch aesthetic – something like Austin Powers wigging out at one of Ken Kesey’s acid tests.

For the first half of the set, however, the band don’t feel like they’ve fully got there yet. The vibes are all good, the ideas are strong, but the tracks just don’t quite live up to their potential. Whilst the songs are all welcome company, they fade from your mind too soon after finishing. It’s only towards the end of the gig, when Bagshaw breaks out a howling, distorted solo, contorting screams from his guitars neck in a full scale freak out, that everything steps up a notch. They follow with their debut single, Shelter Song, and the track proves to be their strongest of the night, evidence that when they marry their starry eyed swirls to genuine pop hooks, they can create something great. A few more tracks like that and the world may well be theirs for the taking.

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