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New Magnetic Wonder

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iTunes Review

It’s been five years since the Apples favored listeners with their delectable brand of pop-psych cotton candy, and in the interim songwriter Robert Schneider seems to have aged his inspirations a decade or so, from the Beatles and the Beach Boys to Todd Rundgren and ELO. Layered thick with overdubs and effects, bursting at the seams with vintage Vocoders, Mellotrons, handclaps, and backward guitars, New Magnetic Wonder swings to the other side of the sonic pendulum from the stripped-down, fuzz-and-feedback aesthetic of 2002’s Velocity of Sound. Supported by a cast of Elephant 6 friends and alums, including the elusive Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, Schneider packs the album full of 14 full-length songs and 12 short “link tracks” to knit the whole together. Heck, he even invented for the occasion a brand-new “non-Pythagorean musical scale,” whatever that means. One thing hasn’t changed: the melodies are just as sunny, hooky and irresistible as ever, even if the lyrics come off as blithely uninterested in depth. “And the world is made of energy/ And the world is electricity/ … And there’s a lot inside of you/ And there’s a lot inside of me,” Schneider sings in his helium-huffer tenor, adding, “It’s gonna be all right.” Absolutely. An overstuffed, tooth-achingly sweet pop confection, New Magnetic Wonder is nonetheless tons of fun — and a great excuse for summer to come back around.

Customer Reviews

Positive Attraction

The Apples in Stereo are back with a worthy evolution to 2002's "Velocity of Sound." Like "Velocity," "New Magnetic Wonder" offers us accessible, smile-filled, foot-tapping positivity and goodness. Thankfully, however, "Wonder" is nearly twice as long and filled with more range than than the pop-punk heavy "Velocity." "Can You Feel It?" leads off "Wonder" with a 70s flare that echoes throughout the album. In addition to a talk-box Frampton-esque flavor, there is a sunny catchiness found in ditties like "Play Tough" and "Sun Is Out," both of which might've shown up in a soda commercial back in the day, and in "My Pretend" which, however briefly, calls to mind something from Harry Nilsson's "The Point." Songs like "Energy" and "Radiation" are emblematic of the karmic beneficence that the Apples in Stereo always deliver with honesty, without coming off saccharine or glib. Peppered here and there, meanwhile, are seriously pretty and haunting Jon Brion-like Mellotron pieces. Don't be surprised if the Apples jump further to the forefront of our consciousness on the heels of this album. Hard work and serendipity have already seen them sign on with Elijah Wood's new label, Simian Records, appear on the Colbert Report this past December (where front man Robert Schneider played with Peter Frampton) and, just recently, get voted by the fans into London's ATP Festival.

A Power Pop Classic

This is album everyone expected after Tone Soul Evolution. And it is worth the wait. While 'Discovery' and 'Velocity' are excellent albums in their own right, I don't think I was alone in thinking that the Apples were capable of more. Granted, it's only early February, but this is one of the most enjoyable and brilliant albums that will be released this year. (One criticism, I kind of think the "interlude pieces" like Mellotron 1 and 2, Crimson, etc... are unnecessary. But that's just nitpicking.)

Auditory bliss

This is an album that will actually cause you to physically smile. It's like rainbows exploding in my brain, man.


Formed: 1993 in Denver, CO

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Sunny pop band the Apples in Stereo were one of the leading lights of the Elephant 6 Recording Company collective, a coterie of likeminded lo-fi indie groups -- including the Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Secret Square -- who shared musicians, ideas, and sensibilities. They were led by singer/songwriter Robert Schneider, a native of the tiny town of Ruston, LA, also home to Jeff Mangum (later of Neutral Milk Hotel) as well as William Cullen Hart and Bill Doss (who formed the Olivia...
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