Temple Scene, a favorite of thesixtyone, has finally yielded to the demand of its rabid fan-base and finally released four songs on Amazon. Being one of those rabid fans, I clicked on over to Amazon and with great anticipation purchased their songs and immediately added them to the rotation of my favorites on my iPod. It was evident from my first encounter with Temple Scene's music on t61 that this was music that was intelligent, beautifully thought-out, masterfully created and well... excellent.
I was glad that Breathing was one of the first four songs released by the band. 'Breathing' exemplifies the beauty of Temple Scene's music. It is rich in texture and builds on layers upon layers of soft and dark harmonies that pull you for the long haul. With lyrics that are both romantic and tragic and vocals that are soft and unforced, the song changes tempos and crescendos into a melodic tour de force that can be enjoyed no matter what mood you're in. The new release of this song sounds a bit too cleaned up than the one that is posted on the site, and while as a sometime snobby audio-phile, I miss the original grit of the song, it is nonetheless one that is amazing, no matter what the production.
The other song released,Somewhere in the City is has a bit more structure, with a constant beat and a near 80's keyboard style, which translates well in this format. The same theme of tragedy intemixed with hope is played out in this song, which paints imagery that dances with the lyrical poetry and simplicity that has become the bands trademark. What seems to work well for Somewhere in the City is that it never gets boring, and yet still manages to feel as warm and comfortable as an encounter with a long awaited friend.
Half Life looks inward for inspiration and, while the theme of perseverence through loss of love can get a bit tired, Temple Scene manages to handle it with grace and not let it get preachy. Half Life is perhaps a bit more poppy and has the cool, 'tortured-soul' feel of a ballad, but it works well in blending the highs and lows into a well-rounded song.
The last song released, Everything is perhaps the weakest in this great mix. Not that it doesn't sound great, but somehow, it is missing the multiple layers of sound that define Temple Scene's music. Instead, it is a more straight-forward, nearly formulatic song, relying on a simple harmony and the strength of the vocals.
I truly appreciate this band's music and their unique sound. The creative duo of Ric Levy and Phillippe Rose have proven they can handle music with an Artist's ear and melodies with a composer's intricacy. While the newly released songs sound a bit too cleaned up in post-production and I miss the yellow bear logo of the original releases, I, for one, am grateful to finally be able to carry these tunes anywhere and listen to them all the time.