THE APPLES IN STEREO: THE DISCOVERY OF A WORLD INSIDE THE MOONE (2000)
1) Go; 2) The Rainbow; 3) Stream Running Over; 4) 20 Cases Suggestive Of...; 5) Look Away; 6) What Happened Then; 7) I Can't Believe; 8) Submarine Dream; 9) Allright / Not Quite; 10) The Bird That You Can't See; 11) Stay Gold; 12) The Afternoon.
At this point, it might seem as if the Apples' career were obeying some invisible sine wave: psycho album — pop album — psycho album — pop album, and so on. The title of the LP is borrowed from the title of the first book written by the Rev. John Wilkins (1614-1672, published 1638, when he was 24 years old, the age of Robert Schneider at the release of the Apples' first LP: funny coincidence, isn't it?), and, although it might read as psychedelic to the fresh eye, there is hardly any more trippiness here than in the works of Wilkins himself, a strictly scientific mind according to XVIIth century standards.
Instead, The Discovery is the band's party-time album. 'Go' sets the tone, a brawny, carnivalesque mix of happy guitars, trombones, and piccolos, crowned with the happiest of all messages: "You're such a pretty pretty little girl / Let's blow this ugly ugly little world". The fat trombone riff adorning the refrain is a marvelous touch, making this one of the band's most memorable tunes and creating a friendly circus atmosphere. Like, when they say "blow", you don't get visions of T.N.T. or Arnold Schwarzenegger — you get visions of balloon packs.
Since a «party» is a more intimate affair than a «teenage symphony» à la Beach Boys or Phil Spector, on Discovery Schneider relies less on overdubs (guitar overdubs, at least; there is quite a bit of instrumental diversity throughout) and more on hooks, with immediately successful results — songs like 'The Rainbow' and 'Stream Running Over' take far less time to unlock my doors of perception than just about anything on the first album, even if, technically, they may be less adventurous. But they're solid power pop compositions with happy pop hooks.
The psychedelic dreamworld still breaks through every now and then, most blatantly, perhaps, on 'Submarine Dream', where it looks like the band is preoccupied with the idea of making every instrument sound in waves — guitars, chimes, phasing and wah-wah effects a-plenty, so be careful or you'll feel like your own conscience, too, has been transformed into an FM wave (there's a grumbly distorted guitar line that comes in midway through and makes things easier, though). But for the most part, it is just pop hook after pop hook, interspersed with one or two formulaically gorgeous acoustic ballads for the sake of catching your breath.
Very nice album. 'Go' almost that the band has almost begun to find its own face; 'The Bird That You Can't See' shows that it has almost mastered the art of creating the perfect pop structure; and 'The Afternoon' shows that it has almost learned how to sound spiritually touching. The factor of the songs willingly evacuating your mind after the music's over still remains, but I find it intuitively obvious that five years of honing their craft have not gone unrewarded — also, they should be using those brass instruments more often, for some reason, their trombone riffs ('Go', 'Look Away') sound more emotional than their guitar ones. Thumbs up.
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