Apples in stereo, Travellers In Space And Time

Published on April 20th, 2010 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Chelsea Spear

apples in stereo travellers

It’s a typical Sunday morning in New England. The skies are overcast, precipitation is spitting, and a slight breeze has started to pick up and become a full-blown wind. To my Eustachian tubes, however, the weather is 85 degrees and sunny without a cloud in the sky. The music of the Apples in stereo can have that effect on listeners.

While Robert Schneider and his band of merry musicians lack the cathartic heft of their Elephant 6 buddies Neutral Milk Hotel, and were never as experimental as the Olivia Tremor Control, he’s always been adept at serving up a kind of musical comfort food to fans of 1960s bubblegum and power pop. He sets his stick-in-the-head melodies in lush, layered production, creating a satisfying sound for fans of a bygone era.

On Travellers in Space and Time, Schneider and company head into. . . the future. When he isn’t singing nonsense syllables or serenading a girl, he paints a lyrical picture of an Epcot-worthy world ahead of us, one in which phones have cameras and cars are also hovercrafts. (You were expecting lyrical depth from an Apples in stereo album?)

The music also represents a futuristic vision. For a band who sounds as though they could join a package tour with the Merry-Go-Round and the Archies, the incorporation of many production and arrangement hallmarks from the 1970s is a forward-looking technique that reflects the futuristic themes of the lyrics.

At times, Schneider’s experiments pay off. “CTU” borrows the heavy bass and drums from the Velvets’ “Sister Ray” to great effect, giving the song an appealingly toothy weight. The ELO-esque keyboard washes and vocodered backups on opening track “The Code” fit well within the Apples’ glossy pop.

Schneider’s enthusiasm for the vocoder takes over the first half of the album, and his obsession culminates in the all-vocodered a capella track “Strange Solar System”—an idea much more interesting in theory than in execution. This track proves that the much-maligned instrument is the cilantro of electronic sound implements: distinctive and most effective in small doses.

As I near my destination, the sun begins to peek out from the clouds and the strains of the closing track, “Time Pilot,” begin to fade out. This album’s work is done.

Travellers in Space and Time is out on April 20 from Yep Rock/Simian/Elephant 6. The band kicked off their tour on April 16 at Cosmic Charlie’s in Lexington, KY. They hit Philadelphia and New York next. For a complete list of tour dates, or to hear selections from Travellers, please visit the band’s Official Site.


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One Response to “Apples in stereo, Travellers In Space And Time

  1. Rev. Syung Myung Me:
    April 20th, 2010 at 10:11 am


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