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Time for Temples

Noel Gallagher's favorite new band stays cool and confident

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Two years ago, Temples began generating a huge wave of interest with their fuzzed-up guitar roar, big hair and '60s-inspired fashions, bringing a fresh twist on a vintage sound and style.

Just don't call Temples music psychedelia, thank you.

"We never have really liked the term 'psychedelia', ever," says keyboardist Adam Smith. "I think psychedelia flourished in the late '60s and it's always been around since then. But a lot of what is called psychedelia is quite droning and drawn out. We like to say we write songs, craft them. I don't know whether it's psychedelia or not — for us, they're pop songs."

Those songs, which make up Sun Structures, the band's debut full-length album, were crafted as a home studio project by singer-guitarist James Bagshaw and bassist Thomas Walmsley. To bring the songs to life live, they recruited Smith and drummer Samuel Toms, who looked like they'd fit with the visual concept for the band.

"We're all from the same town, Kettering," says Smith, who also plays rhythm guitar. "We'd moved away and returned. It's not like we were friends all our lives. In our town, we were the only four guys who dressed like that and looked like that, it's sort of natural."

The quartet, which came together after Temples had released its first single, "Shelter Song," almost immediately were championed by the likes of Johnny Marr, Robert Wyatt, Donovan and Noel Gallagher as England's best new band, with the outspoken Gallagher criticizing British radio for not playing the band's music.

"We didn't expect it," Smith says of the celebrity support. "But when it happened from the outside point of view, it seemed to happen a lot quicker than it did from the inside point of view. When you're on the inside, it felt quite natural. Not to sound arrogant, but we weren't completely shocked. But it is nice to have people say that about your music and write about you and pay attention to you."

The praise was deserved. Temples' mix of gauzy guitar rock, Beatles-esque pop and some Middle Eastern overtones is distinctive and striking. Standouts on Sun Structures include the dark, dreamy and irresistibly catchy "Colours to Life," which has an appealing bit of the aforementioned Middle Eastern accent to go with its thumping rock sound, and "Keep In the Dark," a song that blends pop, acoustic folk and some strong echoes of the Led Zeppelin epic "Kashmir."

The band is also performing a few new unrecorded songs on its current U.S. tour, although Smith says they're stylistically similar.

"It's nothing too contrived that had a hell of a lot of thought in it," he says. "We're writing more together. With the last album, we did things backwards. We had recorded songs and had to learn how to translate them to live. With this album, instead of writing them and producing them first, we're taking them in the rehearsal room and changing them up and all four of us are adding our bit.

"It sounds a bit heavier and they're much more fun to play," adds Smith. "It doesn't sound like a complete new band. But it's a different approach."

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