Thursday, 8 February 2007

Apples In Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder

Having toyed with the avant-garde, twee, and noise-pop, extremes of the psychedelic genre across their twelve year recording career, the Apples in Stereo return after a four-year hiatus with the controls set for the heart of the indie mainstream. ‘New Magnetic Wonder’ sets its store out early, with the energetic ‘Can You Feel It’ – an introductory celebration reminiscent of ‘Turn It On’ on Flaming Lips’ ‘Transmissions (From The Satellite Heart)’, or the opening track of practically any Cheap Trick album. From there on, the tone is positive, inclusive and unchallenging: the Apples aim to do for the Beatles, the Beach Boys and ELO what the Hold Steady do for the Boss. For both acts, Weezer took a wrong turn after the ‘Green Album’. In the place of bad drugs and post-grunge comedown, we have teary-eyed sentimentality as maturity from beer-drinking boys of a certain age.

Musically, the gang’s all here, including Tremor Controllers Bill Doss and W. Cullen Hart, and Milk Hotelier Jeff Mangum on ‘cow object’. Lyrically, as is typical of Apples albums, the clue is in the title: the positivity and sense of ‘Wonder’ would occasionally benefit from an injection of Mangum’s troubled, dystopian bile. Songs such as ‘Play Tough’ and first single ‘Energy’ are reductive and borderline inane in their repeated vocal hooks, bringing to mind fellow Wilson-freaks Papas Fritas. But, those reservations aside, Robert Schneider has corralled his talented team of Elephant 6 eccentrics into making a focused yet expansive, enjoyable album, as instrumentally rich and compositionally mature as anything to come out of the Elephant stable in recent years. Though this is perhaps not an album that justifies taking two discs to perform the same musical tricks as Dinosaur Jr. tossed off, more effectively, in one single ten years ago.


More fun:

Aquarium Drunkard has 'Skyway' and a nice rarity, 'Avril en Mai'.

You Ain't No Picasso has their ode to Stephen Colbert. Bonus points for mentioning Cheap Trick.

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