Join me as I have a listen to the latest release from my favourite psych rock trio.
It’s been two years since Temples’ last album, Volcano, which I (amongst many other loyal fans) found to be slightly disappointing. It had some standout tracks like the fantastic ‘Certainty’ and ‘Oh the Saviour’, but it seems almost impossible for the band to top their masterpiece debut Sun Structures, one of my all-time favourite albums. But now Hot Motion is here, and despite losing a band member on the journey to the album, frontman James Bagshaw believes it is their ‘finest work to date’. Time to see if I agree…
1. Hot Motion
I first heard this title track at All Points East this summer, my third time seeing Temples, and I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since. It’s an instant classic, and the guitar just sounds incredible. I think this song works so well because it follows the same rules as the tracks from Sun Structures, with a slow, dreamy build-up leading to an unforgettable chorus. The boys have certainly got their third era off to a strong start.
2. You’re Either On Something
This track was the second one the band released as a single, and what can I say – I’m absolutely in love. The concept behind the song is really well developed, with James Bagshaw explaining on the band’s Facebook page how it ‘tackles the theme of bliss, and the perception of people’s experiences of it’. As with ‘Hot Motion’, this song truly represents the sound that Temples are known for, with their familiar thought-provoking lyrics. It’s more than earned its place on my Spotify playlists.
3. Holy Horses
Surprise, surprise, I like this one too (I won’t be a biased fan for the whole article, I promise). It took a few listens, but this one has really grown on me. I was strongly reminded of ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’ by The Beatles, as both tracks have strong carnival/circus vibes. It’s a fun and quirky song that’s guaranteed to get stuck in your head.
4. The Howl
My first slightly ‘meh’ track of the album (told you I wouldn’t be biased). It’s a bit bland lyrics-wise, and although the military style drums provide a solid rhythm, they inevitably become repetitive. It’s just not as musically interesting as I know Temples can be, although it does get more complex as it goes on. Having said this, I get the impression that this track might be better performed live, and that I’ll warm to the song the more I listen to it. I guess only time will tell.
It took me a few listens to appreciate this one, and even now, I’m not entirely convinced by its place in Hot Motion. It’s a decent song, but there’s something about the rhythm and the vocals that isn’t as rousing as the title track or ‘You’re Either On Something’, for example. It doesn’t sound as developed to me, either – if you’d told me this song was from Volcano, I’d be none the wiser. It’s just a little bit repetitive and boring – the others have more memorable choruses, and keep you guessing a bit more.
6. The Beam
Temples return to form a little bit with ‘The Beam’. The different parts and harmonies come together really beautifully, and James’ vocals are just brilliant as ever. The guitar reminded me of another track from Volcano called ‘Celebration’, but happily that similarity works here. With this song, they’ve taken elements from previous albums and reworked them into something new, which is what I was hoping they would do consistently.
7. Not Quite The Same
Wow, this song is impressive. I genuinely think Temples’ longer songs do better – when they have time and space to develop their ideas, the results are always brilliant. From the off, you get the impression you’re being lulled into something hypnotic – and then you’re shaken awake by an amazing guitar section. The title, I think, is also quite accurate for the whole album – you get hints of their previous work, but there is (for the most part) a difference. I think I’ll be revisiting ‘Not Quite The Same’ a lot – there’s really something special about this one.
This is a weird one. It sets itself out as different to the rest straightaway, opting for a slow acoustic guitar without the usual initial heavy drumbeat. Bizarrely, the vocals reminded me of Gene Wilder’s eerie singing in the boat scene of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ – there was certainly no knowing where this sinister song was going either. Its heavy electric guitar comes in out of nowhere, somehow tying the whole thing together, but by the end I’m just left feeling confused.
9. It’s All Coming Out
Thank goodness this song brought things back to normality – although ‘normality’ for Temples is still pretty out there. ‘It’s All Coming Out’ is just a fun, cool song, and there’s not much more I can say about it than that. It’s not a standout of the album for me, but it’s definitely another one I feel would be good live.
10. Step Down
Purely based on lyrics, this is probably one of my new favourites from the album. The guitar riffs are a little bit squeaky, but James’ vocals are always enough to win me over. All in all, a cool and compelling track – but you can tell that things are winding down…
…or perhaps not, because this is a really strong ending from Temples. Usually I find their final tracks a bit underwhelming, but not in this case. ‘Monuments’ is beautifully dreamy and conceptually interesting. It actually made me feel really sad that the album is ending, as varied as it has been.
Looking back on Hot Motion, I sadly can’t say I agree with the band that it’s their best work yet. But it seems to be an album that offers something new each time you listen, so perhaps my thoughts will change. If you’re new to Temples, I implore you to go back and check out Sun Structures – if you aren’t, then I’d love to know your thoughts on their latest musical offering.
Featured image and interview quotes Copyright Dork Magazine.