Cook — who was quickly joined in Joesph by drummer Devyn Glista (formerly of The Kickaways) and bassist Pierce Geary, another former Pomegranates member — says Temples is fairly different from Joesph’s debut album, last year’s There Comes the Lord, and the band’s well-in-the-works third album (currently titled I Dreamed You Were My Lover and, according to a social media post by Joesph’s label, due for release later this year or early in 2018). That’s because Cook began writing the Temples material almost nine years ago, as Pomegranates were working on their second album, 2009’s Everybody Come Outside!.
The label says Joesph’s first and next album have more of a “straight-ahead ’60’s/’70s Psychedelic Bedroom Pop/Rock feeling,” but Temples certainly contains varying levels of that flavoring, too. The “Pop” aspect seems to be in Cook’s blood — the man has consistently knocked out classically catchy hooks seemingly with the effort most people put into making a cup of tea. But Temples mixes those arresting melodies in and out with structural explorations and a multihued, dynamic brand of Psychedelia.
Sometimes it’s of the vintage Beatles or Strawberry Alarm Clock or Easy Rider Psych archetype — “Mysterious Ways” gives off the fuzzy Kaleidoscope Pop feels of The Zombies or Os Mutantes. Other times the lysergic effect of the music comes from a more contemporary experimental place, less defined by an era, like “I’m Dead,” which opens with what sounds like a musical exorcism before the bombastic, distorted throb gives way to sunbeam melodies and plaintive acoustic guitar that seems to reference traditional Chinese folk music. The album’s highlight, “Glowing Flower” (which appeared in shorter form on the teaser EP), is like an epic of trippiness that cycles through all of those mind-bending tints, perfectly tying the album together.
Of course, some of Temples is just imaginative Indie Pop/Rock that doesn’t (necessarily) conjure hallucinatory ideation. It’s not hard to imagine album opener “Past, I Quit You” being performed and recorded by Cook’s former band, while album closer “Sometimes” is like what God would play for Prince as he walked through Heaven’s gate, with its funky, sinewy groove and warm, unfurling layers of vocal harmonies, synths, strings, harp and xylophone sounds.
But like on another album highlight, “Temples,” even when Joesph might not particularly be trying to sound psychedelic (or like anything else, for that matter), the exploratory structuring, passionate writing and absorbing textures and production naturally lend themselves to the music’s dreamlike aura. Temples is entertaining and moving from the first note to the last, but it’s also quite a head trip, the kind of album that, if you let it, pulls you into another mental state. And once you’re there, you are in no hurry to leave.
Temples will be available on CD and digitally on Friday at joesph.bandcamp.com, where you can also pre-order a very-limited-edition “box” version that includes the CD and “several items that will help create a more immersive album-listening experience.”
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]