The Apples in Stereo hit pretty close to the mark when they titled their new album, Travellers In Space and Time
. Decked out with the psychedelic electronica the Apples are known for while occasionally stripping down to the straight-forward rock which exists underneath all of the band's complexities, Travellers
fits perfectly with the rest of the Apples' library, which says quite a lot considering this is the first album with only Robert Schneider left from the original line-up. It seems that for some bands, membership isn't everything.
The album opens with a spoken introduction that's as cheesy as it is eerie, the audio crackling with digital's best impersonation of a record or reel. Giving the sense that we've just entered science fiction, the first musical track bounces with sounds of the 70s while somehow turning a love song into a contemplation of -- you guessed it -- space and time. That same tripped-out, robotic sense remains, though Schneider thankfully takes the vocal register down a notch on subsequent tracks, until not quite halfway through the album when the electronic dance rhythms are replaced with equally poppy but less produced five-piece tunes, all proudly professing a playful love for one lucky lady or another. From there, the Apples are somewhat all over the place, bringing back 80s dance with "No Vacation" while channeling The Beatles on "It's All Right" and damn near sampling Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" on "Nobody But You". Gain-heavy guitars drive tunes like "Dignified Dignitary" and "Next Year at About the Same Time" while ballads -- or at least, as close as Apples really get to them -- lull the album to a close, the same artificial-sounding voice from the intro taking us out in a delicate mess of short delays and channel gyration.
What remains most surprising, if not most inspiring, about The Apples in Stereo is that they are able to pull off such complex diversity without a steady lineup, yet they still manage to deliver a signature sound, suggesting that consistent, deliberate production on album concept instead of individual songs is enough to keep a band going strong when nothing else is constant. Travelling through space and time may be an unpredictably transient experience, but for The Apples at least, it seems to be the best way to stumble upon success.-Josh Cacopardo
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MP3: Apples In Stereo - "Dance Floor" (Travellers In Space and Time)
The Apples In Stereo on Myspace