Monday, December 17, 2007

Top 10 Albums of 2007 - #6: The Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder

After a five year hiatus, which saw side projects from both Hilarie Sidney and Robert Schneider, as well as the end of their marriage, the Apples In Stereo returned with arguably their best album yet, and while Sidney is no longer a full fledged member of the band, she lends vocals to a couple of the many excellent tracks on this album.

Every AiS record has sounded a little bit different than the one before. From the jangly pop of Tone Soul Evolution and Fun Trick Noisemaker, to the lilting pop of Her Wallpaper Reverie, to the feedback drenched Beach Boys melodies of Velocity of Sound, they've managed to alter their sound just enough to let you know that they had evolved since the last time you heard them. New Magnetic Wonder showcases Schneider's experiments with vocoders and other bits of technology, while still calling back to their past, maintaining the framework of melodic psych-pop that has shaped every album to a varying degree.

There's a little bit of everything here. The opener "Can You Feel It" would have sounded at home on Fun Trick Noisemaker. The more raw "Skyway" follows, a track that could have had a home on Velocity. "Same Old Drag" and "Play Tough" bust out the harmonies that were so prevelant on Tone Soul, while "Sun is Out" opens as a lo-fi low tempo track right out of Wallpaper, before becoming a campfire style sing-along. Sidney pitches in with Sundaal Song and Sunday Sounds. It's like a greatest hits album of all new material, if that makes any sense.

The album is replete with short little song breaks (Don't download this album unless you can get it for one price, and don't get it from Emusic). There's 24 tracks, but it plays as something closer to a tradition 12-14 track album. And typical of AiS, it's all stuff that really transfers well live. They put on a great show, and they're someone you should check out if you get the chance.

Here's Same Old Drag; Can You Feel It?; and a live acoustic version of Skyway:

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