Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The album cover – B&W home photo of skinny figure in striped jersey and bowl hair-cut, set amongst large expanse of block colour - looks like one of those early Creation Records compilations where 80s indie looked back fondly to 60s beat. The song titles could neatly come from 90s sources – the fridge-magnet-poetry surrealism of Pavement (‘Milk Fad’) or say the loaded-with-meaning wordplay of Grandaddy (‘I’m Not A Weak Old Man, I’m A Week-Old Man’, ‘Perpetual Birthday’). And the 14 rough-cut recordings here skirt these sources - and many others, particularly noughties no-fi experimentalism – but to these ears sound most like strangely disembodied out-takes from Deerhunter, some rich with melody and shape, others fragmentary and abstract.

The debut, free-to-download Temple Songs album drifts between both states. Some tracks are little more than flimsy sketches (the lo-fi prelude of ‘Oh My’) or instrumental exercises in parody (the 50s swinging exotica of ‘Log Flume’ or the slowed down piano-and-clarinet jazz shuffle of ‘I’m Not A Weak Old Man, I’m A Week-Old Man’). Then there are the ‘proper’ songs. ‘Milk Fad’ is cautiously tinny Panda Bear homage to the Beach Boys meets jubilant, twanging guitars. ‘Jupiter’s Baby Body’ shares the same summery carefree charm with an infectious bass throb and balmy, shambling drums but again the warm melodies and energy are cloaked in thick murk. ‘I’m Better Than Brad Berwick’ adopts a different tack – an animated but strained electronic pulse dipped in whistling feedback with the album’s most animated - but equally hidden – vocals. Elsewhere there is the more pastoral ‘I’ll Write You A Song’ all sweet bubbly drift and fluttering drum machine beats, whilst ‘Jello Sky’ is abstract and mournfully introspective mumbling over distant, chiming synths, like Jason Lytle on downers at the bottom of a deep well.

I’m not sure whether the murky production is an aesthetic decision from Jolan Lewis (aka Temple Songs) or caused by hesitancy about the songs themselves. But there is plenty to admire tantalisingly behind the mire. Normally I’m not averse to the lo-fi and muddy but here I find the melody and the vocals too distant, too detached and want to hear both sing out. Best to think of ‘15 Bygones’ as an off-hand collection of demos from Bradford Cox – both the full band sound of Deerhunter through to the more abstract sound collages of his Atlas Sound moniker - intriguing sketches worth exploring in themselves. But fully realised they would be magnificent.

Jupiter's Baby Body - Temple Songs by FollyOfYouth

Temple Songs - A Bee or a Shark by Temple Songs

Temple Songs 15 Bygones [FREE]

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