Alfie Templeman is selling stuff that you can get elsewhere—Tom Grennan does a decent line in it, Declan McKenna too—but he’s banking on build quality to ensure he comes out on top when the figures come in. He trades in sleek, neatly-appointed pop that flirts with soul, funk and indie, with the odd non-threatening psychedelic flourish, and while still in his teens has perfected a blend that is completely reliable.
‘Mellow Moon’ follows up last spring’s ‘Forever Isn’t Long Enough’, which was touted as a mini album rather than the real thing, and manages to feel more refined and focused than its predecessor despite the increased running time.
Templeman tends to transpose his template onto different moods rather than starting afresh each time, and that leads to work that is cogent and well thought-out just as it opens the door to songs becoming samey and uninvolving.
He largely stays on the right side of that divide here, finding melodies that really work on Folding Mountains and Do It while pushing at the confines of his sound just a little on the closer Just Below the Above, which is not a million miles away from a less paranoid ‘Wish You Were Here’-era Pink Floyd.
The recurring issue is that Templeman’s music is too poised, too nice. There are real-world concerns here, notably several allusions to depression, that pass by in the same gauzy mode as some empty-vessel declarations of affection. To dig around too much in the blood and guts of it all would potentially derail the easygoing vibe, of course, but it might also create a complex, nuanced dynamic for him to play with. Whether there’s any appetite for messing with a winning formula remains to be seen.