After an album (2017's Volcano) where the band stretched their psychedelic approach to add synthesizers and some different song structures, Temples return to basics on their third record, Hot Motion. Recording again at vocalist/guitarist James Bagshaw's house, they banished synths and minimalism while instead taking the template of their first album -- thundering T. Rex-style boogie, glimmering guitar textures, soaring vocal harmonies, songs as sticky-sweet as anything from the 1968 pysch-pop underground -- and making it brighter and shiner. The echo is echo-ier, the hooks are bigger, the performances more assured, and the vocals stronger, while the songs are just as memorable and fun as anything on Temples' immaculate debut. The title track starts things off with a technicolor blast of sound that sounds like Marc Bolan fronting the Move, then about half the album follows suit. "Holy Horses" is a loping rocker with bubblegum snappy verses and a dream-like chorus, "The Howl" booms out of the speakers like lost proto-prog jam, "Context" has some nicely tricky guitar parts and spacey vocal weirdness, and "It's All Coming Out" jangles and shimmers with reverb-muted sunshine. Balancing these tracks are some that lie back a little or take a longer route to psych-pop nirvana. "The Beam" is a sauntering baroque pop song that sounds like something that fell out of Nilsson's pocket when he was out on a bender, "Not Quite the Same" meanders in mellow, slightly menacing fashion, and "Monuments" features some first-rate Mellotron work. The outlier is the funk-psych crossover "You're Either on Something" that plunks some typically dreamy Temples music on top of the kind of schoolyard funk drum samples the Avalanches or Go! Team might use. It's something a little new for the band, and it totally works. It's the most accessible song on an album's worth of soft and chewy psych-pop treats made by a group who are back on the right track and seem overjoyed about that. Hot Motion is just as good as Temples' debut, and while it lacks the element of surprise that record had, it makes up for it with improved craft and a boost in energy and sound. It may seem like a backtrack after the experimental nature of Volcano; really it's more like they are heartily reclaiming and celebrating the sound that made them one of the more exciting psychedelic bands of their time.
Hot Motion Review
by Tim Sendra