Psychedelia might be a musical style that’s very much back in vogue, but it’s still a relative niche style, if a bigger niche these days. It’s not the sixties/seventies heyday of tie-dyed psych-outs, but the genre is not just limited to jam band festivals anymore. Yet matching its mainstream and outsider appeals is still a difficult task, as too often one gets the relatively unimpressive psych-lite, such as Temples on Volcano.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Temples, if you like psychedelic music. The brighter effects on songs like “Mystery of Pop” or closer “Strange or Be Forgotten” have definite appeal, and the group certainly traffics in all the washing layers one is looking for in psychedelia. But instead of going full-bore, there is still this feeling that the band wants to keep a foot on the popular ground, as the pieces often struggle to be remarkable. Psych music doesn’t need to have extended, far-out freak-outs, but there has to be more there, there. And if you don’t like psychedelia, Volcano is listenable, but not what you want to listen to.
The success of psychedelica during the success of rock in the sixties & seventies did normalize it somewhat – “If The Beatles are doing it, it can’t be all that weird” – and thus give it a mainstream opening. But it really takes the likes of The Beatles to square this circle.