September 12, 2002

Test Spin: The Apples in Stereo

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What the hell? I thought this was the new Apples in Stereo disc — did I put on that old Redd Kross album by accident? Oh, there’s Schneider’s voice; I guess this is the Apples after all. Still, this album has all the markings of snotty early ’80s punk — the high-pitched prepubescent vocals, the buzz of shoddily-produced, sloppily-played guitars, and of course the locker-room immature lyrics (like Robert Schneider’s declaration, “your friends hate my guts/ they think you’re nuts” on “That’s Something I Do”).

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but the Apples have always had a reputation as second-class knockoffs; good if you’re looking for a little Beatles nostalgia, and not much else. And, newfound lite-punk leanings notwithstanding, Velocity of Sound offers more of the same.

Sure, some of this is pretty enjoyable. “Rainfall” is a catchy tune with stuttery guitars and drummer Hilarie Sidney’s vocals, and would be a great car radio treat. Likewise, the mushy harmonies of “Please” seem tailored for sing-alongs at the beach. “Mystery” is one of the album’s more interesting songs, using trippy sound effects (ever a trademark of the Elephant 6 collective) to bolster an anthemic melody.

The band consistently aims higher than ’80s punk, instead choosing to rip off melodies from the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Try listening to “She’s Telling Lies” without substituting the words “I get around” into the chorus. The shameless aping makes the album fun for a quick game of “where have I heard that before?” Once that novelty wears off, you might as well burn a few of the catchier tracks onto a mix tape for your next road trip, then trade this thing in for Pet Sounds.

Archived article by Ed Howard