Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Alfie Templeman ventures inwards with psychedelic-charmed LP ‘Radiosoul’

The sophomore LP is an impressive milestone in the 21-year-old’s career
Photo courtesy of Alfie Templeman

Colorfully whizzing and sonically spiraling through a vast expedition of the self, singer-songwriter Alfie Templeman released his sophomore album “Radiosoul” last week. The project courageously launches off in an unfearing mission inward, with brash soundscapes that mark the artist’s evolved yet exuberant poise; Templeman’s latest can only be best described as ultraviolet.

It’s 70s rollerblades and big sunglasses personified – but skates through the sometimes uncomfortable journey of self-discovery while aweing at small wonders along the way. Forging his way from the more generic adolescent indie-pop of EP “Don’t Go Wasting Time” to a refined explosion of retro-influenced funkadelia featuring none other than Nile Rodgers, the 21-year-old’s musicianship, although much more assured, is ever-rooted in playfulness and joy. 

This is glaringly, and immediately apparent with the title track opener. Fleshed out in canyoned reverberations of various layers of bluesy guitar lines, the LP’s introduction is a forward distinction of Templeman’s creativity. There’s a fusion between elements of deep, caramelized horns, spurred keys and restless percussion that melt into the greater picture of a thick but churning production. 

Confused by society’s illusion of perfection, his lyricism communicates a relentless and haunting urgency to find all the answers to life’s questions: “Your eyes don’t see me, they see someone else / Somebody no one really knows / Is there a rain cloud in your perfect world? / Is there a thorn within the rose?” This restlessness, by way of breathily spacey vocals, is an itch only to be scratched by following his instincts to the very end.

Templeman powers through Prince-like intonations in “Eyes Wide Shut” before the whirlpooling “The Is Just The Beginning,” a shining example of his vocal performance. As the production leans more into electrified pop, sultry dissonance and a gritty pre-chorus orbit around zinging synthesizers that still carry through that cohesive line of genre-bending. Lyrics detail the addictively soul-crushing push-and-pull of being strung along by a romantic interest, but buoyantly so, as harmonies echo out in all their reverberated glory. Literally and sonically imagined in a galactic soundscape, the Englishman is masterful in communicating that we’ve-all-been-there feeling of being lost and forgotten about in space. But besides the theme of heartache, this is still a track made for dancing.

Moving swiftly into “Vultures,” video game-like synths are heightened even more than before and surprisingly march in tandem with an intoxicating bongo-esqe percussion. Contrary to the bulk of the album is the use of the acoustic guitar, accentuating the verses’ quirky tonal inflections. Collapsing into hypnotic, vast and expansive vocals is a kaleidoscopically blooming chorus that tastefully mushrooms into a heavy electric guitar line. Together, these lush elements carry forward a far-out and groovy progression, making it hard not to move along to. 

“Hello Lonely” is another LP standout that involves a great big cosmic sound straight from the jump, a la Foster The People’s 2017 “Sacred Hearts Club.” Again, Templeman conveys his unwanted and fearful solitude and subsequent dread in the track’s writing: “Nothing is forever / But forever’s always whispering closely / ‘Hello, lonely.’” An ultra stereo-concentrated riff mixed with grungy bass and guitar lines brings a haunting realization of loneliness that Templeman can’t seem to outrun. Its mission is skillfully executed, standing as an infectiously triumphant track brimming with flavorful instrumental bursts.

Going back to his indie-pop roots, “Submarine” playfully basks in the deep sea of love forlorn whimsy. Begging for a lost love, Templeman is unafraid of all the challenges that may follow. The pleading, down-on-your-luck saga unfolds through a whirring piano that almost spins out of control with crazed falsetto – communicating true chaos and mayhem. But in true ocean-themed fashion, a plucking surf timbre brings its keys counterpart down to earth, although a lovesick Templeman is right back to where he started.

Closing out the project with “Run To Tomorrow,” this ending marks a transcendental shift in Templeman’s rather active mind. As opposed to the rest of the album, the track is much more stripped down and resolute, reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi” with pulsating guitar and silky percussion. Reaching a gloriously sunkissed apex, Templeman’s cry-like vocal runs hint at the neverending search for something greater. 

With thought-provoking lyricism and fleshed out instrumental layers that stretch over various types of genres, Alfie Templeman has reached an exciting milestone in his career. Although full of unanswered questions, the LP celebrates the necessary growing pains that come with introspection in glimmering sonic tapestries. While taking inspiration from a multitude of styles and influences, Templeman’s “Radiosoul” makes for one soul-satisfying listen that boldly blossoms in full sound and color.

Caitlin Reardon can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on X @caitlinjreardon.

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