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The Apples in Stereo

The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone

(spinART; US: 18 Apr 2000; UK: 31 Oct 2000)

The Apples in Stereo might be the most musically conservative of the Elephant 6 bands, but they sure know how to make a song get stuck in your head. Their previous releases are all masterpieces of giddy pop/rock, the kind of melody-filled albums that keep you singing all day. Robert Schneider, the group’s main singer/songwriter, writes beautiful pop songs built around simple lyrical ideas. He’ll take one thought or emotion and build an amazingly memorable tune around it.

As great as their previous albums are, it’s nice to see The Apples diversifying their sound. The mini-album Her Wallpaper Reverie and the Look Away+4 EP gave evidence that the band was broadening their musical palette, and that pattern thankfully continues on their latest album, The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone.

Change for The Apples is a gradual thing. There’s no drastic shift with this album, but there are enough new elements to keep their formula from getting boring. The Discovery… is still filled with sublimely catchy songs, mostly written and sung by Schneider, who for some reason has one of the friendliest-sounding singing voices I’ve ever heard. But this album has added instrumentation and nice stylistic departures that give The Apples’ music new texture.

“Go” and “The Bird That You Can’t See” take The Apples down the disco road a bit, and that’s not a bad thing. These are funky, upbeat dance songs, played by a rock band. They are American Bandstand classics for the new millennium, and they’re nice on the ears. “The Bird…” in particular gets me up out of my chair every time. Another nice touch is the use, on several songs, of keyboards and horns, which blend into the band’s sound seamlessly. It’s also great to see the continual progression of drummer Hilarie Sidney’s songwriting skills. Her two songs here, “20 Cases Suggestive Of…” and ” Stay Gold” are as solid as anything else on the album.

The songs on The Discovery… are not only as rocking and as hummable as anything else The Apples have done, they have a more sonically complex nature to them. All in all, the album just sounds beautiful to my ears. The rocking songs rock, the pretty songs are pretty, and the whole affair just puts a smile on my face in no time. If these songs could find their way into household stereos and car radios across the country, I can imagine everyday people everywhere would find themselves joyfully singing along.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

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