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Apples in Stereo: Her Wallpaper Reverie

Apples in Stereo
Her Wallpaper Reverie

[spinART; 1999]
Rating: 6.3

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Download it from Emusic

It used to be that the Apples in Stereo were the most reliable, level-headed members of the Elephant 6 collective. No matter what over-the-top weirdness the Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel would hurl your way, you could always count on the Apples to deliver the goods: straight-up, shaggy Beatle-worship pop played through guitar amp tubes as warm and fuzzy as a big pile of stuffed animals.

But eventually, the inevitable had to happen; Robert Schneider and company have finally become corrupted by the influences of their E6 peers on Her Wallpaper Reverie, a fifteen-track album with maybe six actual songs and lots-- and I mean lots-- of noodly little interludes that, taken together, are supposed to make up some sort of "concept album" about tripping on wallpaper patterns. Now, I enjoy staring at the wall as much as the next drug casualty, but do I really need the Apples in Stereo to release a fucking concept album about it?

Okay, so the concept part of Her Wallpaper Reverie isn't that obtrusive by itself, but it does give the Apples license to indulge in dinky, somewhat annoying "mood pieces", most of which include a shrill harpsichord-like "theme". The interludes and actual songs really don't have much to do with one another, and the transitions between the two types of tracks can be pretty jarring. The only vaguely interesting interlude is "Drifting Patterns", where two similar melodies phase slowly out of and back into sync with one another-- and even then the concept is more interesting than the actual execution.

Ultimately, though, Her Wallpaper Reverie is worth it for three songs: "Strawberryfire", "Ruby", and "Questions and Answers". The first is an excellent example of the kind of drowsy, shuffling Beatlesque psych-pop we're used to hearing from the Apples; the second is an irresistibly head-bobbing Beach Boys tribute; the third is a similarly cheery, upbeat tune written and sung by drummer Hilarie Sidney. These three songs are on par with the Apples's best work; stick them on a CD by themselves and you'd have yourself a killer EP. Trust me: when you have songs this good, there's no need to come up with some goofy concept and toss in a bunch of filler to prop it up.

-Nick Mirov, August 01, 1999

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