It was back in 2014 when Temples—James Bagshaw (vocals and guitar), Tom Warmsley (bass), Sam Toms (drums), and Adam Smith (keys)—emerged with their debut album, Sun Structures. The album unapologetically tapped into the band’s psychedelic forefathers while simultaneously sitting comfortably with contemporaries like Tame Impala. Aligning so strongly with a scene and sound may have teed up expectations in a very specific way for the next step, but upon hearing Volcano (Fat Possum Records), Temples’ follow-up, one immediately recognizes that although it is still draped in psychedelic sounds, it is a different beast than Sun Structures. In other words, same church, different pew. The big difference is that Smith carries a greater load this time around. While guitar is certainly present, it’s his keys that lead the way. And far less dirty than its predecessor, it’s more pop. But what it may lack in rawness, it makes up for in intricateness. Every song is crammed with little touches that demand to be listened to through headphones, and with the swirling background vocals and some unconventional arrangements, it’s easy to imagine some of these transposed to a much bigger scale.
Another surprise may be how danceable Volcano leans. It’s by no means a club record, but there are some undeniable grooves, as on “Certainty” and “Open Air,” that seem to beckon towards the dancefloor. There are trippy moments where some guitar workouts peak their way in and give you a fading glimpse of Sun Structures, but the band is all-in on their revised approach. Though Volcano may differ from what came before it, if you’re willing to go along on the ride, it’s just as satisfying.