Temple of Angels Find Pop On Endless Pursuit

Temple of Angels Find Pop On Endless Pursuit
Temple of Angels photo via Bandcamp

When Northern Transmissions reaches Temple of Angels vocalist Bre Morell, the musician has just come home from one of her last-ever shifts working for an L.A.-based soap company, where she’d been building tools and molds for bath bombs and other scented wares. After spending the last few years in the Golden State, she’s quitting her 3D printing gig to reunite with the rest of her Austin, Texas bandmates. That’s partly because the band are about to deliver their dreamy full-length debut, Endless Pursuit. Since the act also plans to hit the road pretty heavy this year, it’s fair to note that rent is running cheaper in her home state, too.

“Since my life is changing, and the fact that I’m going to be touring all the time now, it made sense to live somewhere affordable where I can just come home and relax,” Morell explains, though she adds of the interpersonal perks of moving back to Texas, “I do feel pretty isolated out here [in L.A.]. I missed sitting around with my bandmates; I missed getting a practice together.”

Fittingly, transitional states factor into much of Endless Pursuit, a record where Morell often uses her vibrato to intone tales of people traveling various planes of existence in search of one another. It’s a record the vocalist admits was partly inspired by the vivid nightmares she’d been experiencing following the death of her mother, though her dreamscapes can likewise swing positive — take swirling early single “Tangled in Joy,” a fantastical love song that sounds as high-spirited as its title suggests. And while album tracks like “Torment” reflect the moody, post-punk incandesce of the band’s earliest releases, Endless Pursuit also levels up Temple of Angels’ melody making — from janglier guitar production befitting a classic Sundays single, to Morell’s intricate and exuberant vocal runs on the album’s “Waving to the Wind”.

Speaking with Northern Transmissions, Morell further details the dreamscapes of Temple of Angels’ latest album, mimicking Jeff Buckley and Mariah Carey as a budding vocalist, and her endless pursuit for human connection.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

NORTHERN TRANSMISSIONS: There’s been a progression from the first EP, through to 2019’s “Cerise Dream” single, and into Endless Pursuit where Temple of Angels are opening themselves up to both dreamier and more outwardly anthemic songcraft — poppier depths and textures. How conscious was the band of brightening up the sound?

BRE MORELL: It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t like we sat down and said, “Oh, we should write catchier, poppier, more anthemic songs,” like you said. It just kind of happens over the years. This is our first [full length] record, so the whole time up until then we’re still getting to know each other.

I was the last to join the group [in 2017]. When I joined the band, I was terrified. I was very shy and self-conscious. I didn’t even want anyone to hear me sing! So, my vocals were so buried in the earlier recordings, and live, and I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be audible; I was also scared of sharing the subject matter of the songs, which I’d never done until now.

We’ve all grown as musicians and songwriters over time….and I think we found what our strengths were, together, as a band. We can do something beyond how we started. We can write pop songs if we want! So, why not go for it?

NT: “Tangled in Joy,” Endless Pursuit’s first single, is rapturous — that first line, “I found love, I cannot hide,” seems apt! What can you say about the spirit of that song, and embracing that joy?

BM: I remember the first time I heard it. Especially because I’ve been living in Los Angeles the last couple of years, they’ll write together in Texas, record it, and send it to me through iPhones — that one struck me [in particular]. The second I heard [“Tangled in Joy”], I [had] the melody. Some of the lyrics came out immediately. I know that sounds corny, but I swear it really was [that] immediate. We all took to that one quickly, and it ended up being one of our favourite songs from the record.

NT: It’s been four years since Temple of Angels’ last single, and in that time, you’d moved to California and also started the Crushed project. How have you found your voice has developed between Temple of Angels releases, and perhaps through working with Crushed?

BM: Well, Crushed have barely done anything. We’ve only just begun, and it’s taken on more of a life that I expected it would. I will say, Crushed also came after the Temple of Angels record was written. [Endless Pursuit] was totally done before then. But I think [Endless Pursuit got me] to the point where I [was] more comfortable singing, [by] being more upfront in the songs and clearer with the lyrics.

NT: How had you developed your voice, in general? Like, what did you sing along to when you were growing up?

BM: That’s how I learned, just by singing along to my favourite artists. By obsessing over them, and learning how to mimic exactly how they sang. My earliest memories that I have is of the Chicks…I had all their CDs and cassettes when I was a kid. I was obsessed with their voices, and the harmonies. So, as a little kid I was trying to sing along to the Chicks.

As I got older and started to grow into my voice, I was really into Amy Winehouse. Even Mariah Carey. My number one favourite is Jeff Buckley; [he’s] probably the biggest influence on me, vocally. I’ve been obsessed with him, and the power and emotion he had, for forever. Of course, Liz Fraser is a more recent [influence] of the past ten years; I didn’t really get into [Cocteau Twins] until a bit later in life.

I would go thorough phases where I would spend a couple months learning how to sing like somebody, and then move onto the next song. After 20 years of doing that, I have tiny little pieces of all these people in me.

NT: The members of Temple of Angels have also played in numerous hardcore bands over the years. Have you ever tried screaming in a hardcore band?

BM: Honestly, I’d love to. [Hardcore’s] how we met each other. I was a part of that scene in Texas: all my friends were in these bands; I was going to all these shows. At that time, [though,] I was super shy. I secretly wanted to be in a band, but I was too embarrassed to really talk to people. Nobody had heard me sing or play guitar — I really wanted to play guitar in a band, too — until I ended up in Temple of Angels.

NT: What’s the vibe like at something like the upcoming Sound and Fury fest, where Temple of Angels are sprinkled into a day of sets from heavier bands like Spy, Skourge, or Sanguisugabogg. You’ve got a different approach, to say the least!

BM: Crushed is playing too, which is even crazier [to me]. I’m playing both days of the fest, which will be interesting. I’ve actually never been to Sound and Fury, but we’ve played other punk and hardcore-focused fests, like Not Dead Yet in Toronto.

Those are all of our friends, you know. That’s our scene, [so] they embrace us. I will say that back then our sound was a lot more post-punk — louder, and more intense. There are heavier moments on [Endless Pursuit], but overall, I think it’s softer than we’d ever been. I’m curious to see [if] people in those spaces, or that scene, [will] like it anymore.

NT: There are moments across this album that hinge around transitional states, from lucid dreams to hopes of meeting someone in the afterlife. How do these various limbos connect, for you?

BM: A lot of the material on this record has to do with the intense dreams that I’ve had my whole life. At the time that we were writing this record, they were particularly bad and specific. They focused on my mom, who had recently died. [This was] during COVID lockdowns, so things were already crazy. Mentally, [I was] having a hard time and feeling depressed. During that time, I started having these horribly vivid nightmares, reliving things to do with her death. A recurring theme was that I’m trying to find her. Like, she’s lost and I’m desperately looking for her. There would be different settings or iterations of it, but it’s just frantically looking for someone who was obviously a huge part of my life, and who is [now] gone. I know that technically she’s dead, but it does feel like her memory is still alive in me. So, she must be alive somewhere. That’s how it manifests in my dreams, this feeling that she has to be out there.

“Tangled in Joy” and “The Hill” are about other dreams that I had when I was a teenager — lucid dreams that I thought about my whole life, because they were very intense and vivid. These dreams took place in a different universe, and this person at the centre of the dreams was my soulmate. That’s kind of what those songs are about: searching for this perfect person that I haven’t met. I’m always searching for something in my dreams, [whether] it’s a happy love story, or this tragic thing [around] losing an important person in my life. There’s a similar feeling…

NT: Working through those thoughts with Temple of Angels, do you feel any nearer to closing the loop of your endless pursuit?

BM: I think it’s something that will be present my whole life, but I will say that the nightmares have ended. I’ve healed a lot since then. At the time we wrote and recorded the songs, I couldn’t even listen to them because I was doing so bad. Even now, when I hear certain songs, I remember that day in the studio; it’s really upsetting to be brought back to that time. Like, it really was a low point in my life. But I’ve accepted it now, and I appreciate that this record is a snapshot of what was going on at the time.

NT: Does it worry you at all to get back into that headspace, as the band set off to play these songs on tour?

BM: I think I’ve overcome that. The first time that we played these songs live was tough, but it’s been a couple of years, now. The healing has all taken place. I’m in a much different place. I’m not too worried about playing these songs live. I’m excited to do it!

Pre-order Endless Pursuit HERE


Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.


Looking for something new to listen to?

Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.