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Sweet (power-pop) confections

The Apples In Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder
(Yep Roc Records)
5 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 23, 2007
The Apples In Stereo

Review by Tony Bonyata

New Magnetic Wonder may be the sixth studio album The Apples In Stereo have released in twelve years, but, more importantly, it marks their first in the last five years. While such a long hiatus often spells disaster for most other bands, it actually seems to have rejuvenated the Denver-based indie-rock outfit as this record turns out to be a true magnum opus of swirling, psychedelic, positively-charged power-pop.

Led by Robert Schneider, who looks more like that dorky, but ultimately cool Biology teacher you had in high school than a frontman of a rock band, the songs that grace this wonderment of pop are all bursting at the seams with inventive ideas, hope and sunny good vibrations. From the crashing catchiness of "Can You Feel It?," "Energy," "Play Tough" and "Beautiful Machine Parts 1- 2" to the flexed muscle riff that pumps up "Open Eyes" to the electro-musings that bleep and buzz underneath the rich bubblegum harmonies and sumptuous melody of "Radiation," it's clear Schneider is on a level of greatness for creating infectious rock music.

Incorporating the sweet harmonies of The Beach Boys, the sunny vibes of the late '60s, a knack for hammering out one perfectly constructed song after another in true Lennon/McCartney style, along with the lush, multi-layering production skills of ELO (sans some of the heavy-handed pretensions), The Apples In Stereo, on paper at least, sound like a throwback to the late '60s or early '70s. But despite the fact that they often do hearken back to the golden age of pop, they also sound as fresh as anyone else out there at the moment. The bulk of the record, or actual songs, are all patch-worked together with short interludes of spacey mellotron, disorienting psychedelia, grand chamber music, Kraftwerkian vocoder and jazz bits that feature both a drunken-piano teetering about, before a Django-gypsy guitar slowly flamencos between these pop confections. Even the oddly disorienting beginning of "Open Eyes" borrows some the experimental tape looping that John & Yoko explored on their 1968 Two Virgins album (who The Apples further pay homage to by including the nude silhouettes of the two eternal lovebirds from the cover of Two Virgins for their own beautifully colorful and trippy album art).

Schneider's song craft continues to lean towards The Beatles on the smile-inducing "Sun Is Out," which at first sounds like a lo-fi John Lennon outtake from The White Album before the song sways into a ramshackled bit of sing-song fun - morphing the communal free-love vibe of Paul McCartney's "All Together Now" with the epic coda of "Hey Jude," all while a twittering flute flutters about like an anesthetized butterfly.

If you, like myself, are a fan of unabashed sweet, guitar-driven power-pop then this is a no-brainer. Go out now and pick up New Magnetic Wonder. It's nothing short of magic.

The Apples In Stereo are performing in Madison Monday, February 26th at High Noon Saloon, 701A E. Washington, Madison, WI. (608) 268-1122

Watch The Apples in Stereo's - "Energy" video

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