Nature abhors a vacuum and Noel Gallagher has always been a force of nature. Though the erstwhile Oasis guitarist/mouthpiece hasn’t made a noteworthy lick of music in over a decade and a half (and not for lack of trying), he can still give up-and-coming bands a tremendous boost with only a few kind words. And in 2013, he successfully stumped for two acts practicing in styles of UK rock that were formative in his upbringing and have all but disappeared since the turn of the millennium. The first was Madchester revivalists Jagwar Ma, who made the most of their opportunity with their fine debut Howlin’. The other is Temples, who seem to think that rock music was perfected somewhere between the beginning of Odessey and Oracle and the end of it, but it could just use some much louder drums — essentially, what Definitely Maybe did with its influences.
You can’t doubt Temples’ commitment. The first notes you hear on Sun Structures are from a clean 12-string guitar, and during the breaks in the call-and-response vocals that follow, you’ll spend the rest of “Shelter Song” trying to figure out the Rubber Soul deep cut from which it’s on loan. The ensuing title track even has a chorus that revolves around the word “odyssey.” James Edward Bagshaw’s vocals are pure Lennon nasal spray and the dozens of ringing arpeggios cause Sun Structures to unintentionally double as a long-form ad for Rickenbacker.
All of which makes Sun Structures an enjoyable period piece and one that reveals all of its secrets the first time through. There’s a misconception that music of this sort has to be puritanical, which is clearly not the case: Yes, Sun Structures is exciting if you think Unknown Mortal Orchestra is too unsettling, if Tame Impala is too modernist. But those are the bands who tap into the psychedelic, progressive spirit of their influences rather than just the sound. While it’s abundantly clear what kind of music moves Temples on Sun Structures, you never find out why.