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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Apples In Stereo: Her Wallpaper Reverie


1) I. Her Room Is A Rainy Garden; 2) II. Morning Breaks (And Roosters Complain); 3) The Shiney Sea; 4) III. The Significance Of A Floral Print; 5) Strawberryfire; 6) IV. From Outside, In Floats A Musical Box; 7) Ruby; 8) V. She Looks Through Empty Windows; 9) Questions And Answers; 10) VI. Drifting Patterns; 11) Y2K; 12) VII. Les Ama­nts; 13) Benefits Of Lying (With Your Friend); 14) Ruby, Tell Me; 15) VIII. Together They Dream Into The Evening.

Once again, a sharp turn onto the psychedelic lane, as the special effects make a grand return, and along with them comes the idea of having lots of brief (and one long) interludes that sort of make you believe the actual songs are breaking their way out of an enchanted musical box. You see, there is a she, and she has apparently glued her wallpaper onto her wall with the aid of a sticky hallucinogenic substance, and when the visual effect of the wallpaper, the olfactory reaction of the substance, and the aural factor of musical box come together...

...what you get is about twenty minutes of decent psychedelic songs and about seven more minu­tes of «links» whose names take more time to type than their sounds take time to roll through your channels. To judge them is easy enough: if The Apples In Stereo, as a supernatural concept, blow your mind and send its smithereens to outer space, you will adore these bits, ranging from minimalistic musical box tinkle-winkles to little bursts of free-form jazz to primitive electronic drones ('Drifting Patterns'), because we have to respect our gods for whatever they send us, no matter how understandable the «whatever» is. If, however, you like them more for either their me­lodies or those particular ways they trick you into loving the sound of these melodies, the links are totally unnecessary and skippable.

Of the actual songs, 'Ruby' is a modern pop classic, easily as good as one of those shiny bright Hollies hits like 'Bus Stop' or 'Sorry Suzanne' (much more poorly produced, though, as if they were still afraid that hi-fi values might somehow compromise their vision), and 'Y2K' combines Kinks-style music-hall with the turn-of-the-century problem in a way that's novel, funny, and smile-inducing. Once they get off the bouncy-boppy rhythms, though, they start losing attention again — 'Strawberryfire', for instance, is only memorable for its obvious allusion, both lyrical and musical, to 'Strawberry Fields Forever', and 'Benefits Of Lying' is so busy turning each separate instrument and each vocal overdub into a cute little pink cloud that eventually, nothing is left but The Big Pink — and this isn't even music from it, if you get my meaning.

The album is over in such a ridiculously short while that I don't even have time to position the thumbs — probably, they're stuck somewhere in between high and low, because, even if The Ap­ples cannot produce a bad album almost by definition (unless they start covering Bon Jovi or something like that), this whole thing smells like a quick throwaway, a mini-stylization to keep the fans happy while the band sorts out its image problems. But it did goad them into putting out 'Ruby', fattening classic Brit-pop with at least one more first-rate melody.

Check "Her Wallpaper Reverie" (CD) on Amazon
Check "Her Wallpaper Reverie" (MP3) on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. "Ruby" is indeed the the best song in the Apples' canon, and I think it's actually very well produced, certainly the one song where Schneider's meticulous arranging meets good songwriting and a bucketload of hooks. The Hilarie Sidney sung "Questions and Answers" would make a perfect b-side to it, with its bouncy rhythm, shimmering guitars and jingling tambourines. The rest of it, though, is just sort of "there"..."Strawberryfire" is one of those songs that gets labeled as a perfect 60's throwback that will appeal to fans of classic psyche pop (a group I certainly fall into), but there just isn't enough of a hook to make it truly great. The other songs are pleasant but unmemorable, and I don't care for the silly "musique concrete" interludes, either.

    The Apples are an interesting study in the often subtle difference between consistency and inspiration, which I feel people who label the band as the crown jewel in the Elephant 6 Collective often get confused. Occasionally, they break the mold of workmanlike retro mannerism and add some songs to the all-time canon, and Robert Schneider's work ethic and attention to detail are at least admirable enough to make me keep listening.

    Any chance of reviewing other Apples related projects like the Marbles, or Beulah or the Minders, who both had excellent albums in the late 90's produced by Schneider? I consider some of their work essential, pretty great 60's inspired stuff, but with some 90's indie rock energy.