You often hear, “How did Tame Impala recreate that ‘60s vibe? Kevin Parker sounds just like John Lennon!” And every time, I think to myself, why do I not feel the same way? Or, why is that not what seems relevant about the popularity of that brand of neo-psychedelia?
See, Tame Impala’s success derives much more from modern electronica and contemporary pop rock than from the psychedelic rock of the ‘60s and ‘70s. That’s why their music abounds at music festivals that cater to millenials and not to baby boomers. That’s why they’re still able to get buzz and even radio play in today’s extra-commercialized music market. They’re not exactly counter-cultural icons, after all.
Their music lacks the sociocultural weight and drug influence (the two are inextricable) that made psychedelia what it was. So, what people are really referring to these days when they say “psychedelic” is the extra attention paid to sound and tone.
As Temples’ James Bagshaw (vocals/guitar) put it to me over the phone last week, “[My] writing is very much sound orientated as much as it is melody orientated. Melody can sound cheesy with one sound where it can sound amazing with another sound.”
The Kettering, England, based band Temples is of similar ilk to Australia’s Tame Impala, but because Temples’ last album was very much a direct rehashing of sonic themes from 40+ years ago, they didn’t blow up in the same way that the latter did.
However, according to Bagshaw, “we were quite fortunate to get in there [the psychedelic resurgence] before we knew it was going to be a scene.”
And, given the true-to-form psychedelic pop rock of their debut album, “Sun Structures,” you could argue their right to usurp Tame Impala’s throne as kings of channeling a bygone era.
But their new album, “Volcano,” which drops on Friday, March 3, will cement their contemporary relevance and establish their music as more than just an exercise in nostalgia.
According to Bagshaw, “On this record, we’ve not delved into the past as much. It’s far more forward looking. It’s relevant now -- it’s not dystopian. We’ve turned influences on their head.”
This inversal is important, because this cultural moment doesn’t need more distraction and tripping out. Somehow, a psychedelic consciousness is not fitting in the same way that it was coming out of the ‘50s. Rather, this moment needs clarity, accessibility and a direct line to action.
So, on this album, according to Bagshaw, “Each song is its own poem and it belongs in this anthology of poems. The lyrics are direct and there is less ambiguity than the last album.”
And just two days after revealing the breadth of their progression toward a more direct future, Temples will play the Belly Up as part of the Desert Daze Caravan with Night Beats, Deap Vally, Froth and JJUUJJUU.
If you’re a fan of Tame Impala but privilege a little more experimentation and authenticity, then buy tickets early and head to Solana Beach on Sunday, March 5, for a show that’s sure to sell out.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. He now plays in the Lulls and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.