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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.

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Biography

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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