Apples in Stereo Create Illusions

I was excited to hear that the indie/quasi-Beatles tribute band The Apples in Stereo had released a new album following their wondrous “Fun Trick Noise Maker” and “Her Wallpaper Reverie.””New Magic Wonder,” their latest, is a whopping 24 track neo-psychedelic pop album that offers more of the same but none of the vitality of their previous recordings. They stray from the late Beatles- inspired pop compositions for a harder, faster, more jaunty sound.With album art that recalls the more mystic sides of Santana and Sun Ra, the music is equally erudite, sporting titles like “Mellotron 2,” “Beautiful Machines Parts 1-2” and “Non- Pythagorean Composition 3.” Interludes of one minute or less tracks attempt to style the album as experimental, but some of them, like the twenty-second organ dominated “Non-Pythagorean Composition 1,” is just plain annoying, proving the age old maxim that the title doesn’t make the song.These interludes, meant to set up what is to follow, foster a sense of disconnection. The vocal distortions throughout the album are horribly repetitive. Equally disagreeable is the lack of variation in lyrical structure. When you can guess the next line of a song, you know they’re lacking something, e.g. in “Engery,” the lyrics are, “…and the world is made of energy/ there’s a light inside of you and a light inside of me.”There are some gems though, such as “Same Old Drag.” Almost a dance beat, this piano and synthesizer infused track recalls ’80s Brit-pop legend Madness in its highly narrative (with back-up vocals) structure. The other goody is “Sunday Sounds,” a power-fem lamentation reminiscent of the Belle and Sebastian tracks on which Isabell is the lead vocals. Overall though, I was hoping for innovation, not just the illusion of it through flashy production techniques. But I don’t know, maybe I’m just no good at geometry.