I'm a big fan of Temples. Ever since their breakthrough single 'Shelter Song', they've been one of the bands I've been most passionate about due to their remarkable ability to reinvent songwriting within a genre -- which can be loosely described as neo-psych/prog/pop-rock. You can upgrade production all you want, gain access to new methods and instruments and excellent performers, but at the end of the day, all that matters is how good a song is, and Temples excel in songwriting. They seem eager to conquer new territories by breaking the yawn-ish ordinary progression and modulation rules, sending a tune into a different place from the one we thought it would be going in the first place -- as if a song was made of several corners and by turning each one of them an unexpected yet pleasant surprise awaited us.

Sun Structures did that to me. Hell, Sun Structures was my absolute favourite album of 2014, and the year wasn't exactly lacking in brilliant records. That's why I got so excited when I heard they were unleashing new material.

I must admit, first single 'Certainty' was somehow different from what I was initially expecting, but it was still a remarkable example of their impressive songwriting skills and their ability to craft brilliant hooks, so it only made me more eager to listen to the full LP. I then met with James and Thom in December for a brief interview in which I tried to get more details of Volcano. The impression I got was -- and rightfully so -- that they were making music for themselves, not trying to live up to the idea people had of their sound. Integrity and truth to one's voice is probably the quality I admire the most in musicians, especially since nowadays the recurring pattern appears to be following trends or trying to create something new just for the sake of it, which results in art void of meaning.

Unfortunately, I didn't engage with Volcano as I thought I would; to put it bluntly, the album was somewhat of a disappointment to me. It's weird because I can't quite put my finger on why (although James' singing, which seems a bit different from the previous album, might have contributed to it). The production is flawless, and it's rather admirable that the band took the matter into their own hands, since it helps provide a proper vehicle for their message.

Volcano is much more powerful than Sun Structures sonically; it's spacier, and arrangements are impressively bolder. But its songwriting, which is what eventually stays with me the longest, appears to have shifted towards the progressive end of the spectrum -- a logical move if you follow their playlists/mixtapes and are up-to-date with what they've been listening to. Temples are one of the most musically educated bands I know, constantly dabbing in loads of different stuff which enables them to drink from all the multicoloured fountains they choose to. But Volcano's songs seem to lack the spontaneity Sun Structures was built upon. I didn't find anything that was exciting and new like their previous material, and that saddened me.

There is nothing wrong with Volcano - its songs are meticulously crafted and magnificently produced, with nothing sounding out of place. But it bored me. I listened to it once and didn't feel like doing it again (although I obviously did, multiple times, both for writing this and to give the album a second, third, and fourth chance), which is never a good sign.

By all means, give this a spin if you're either a fan of Temples or not, and tell me I'm wrong. But I do believe in excitement and empathy through music, and Volcano simply didn't do it for me.