If you are familiar with artists from the Elephant Six Collective such as of Montreal, The Olivia Tremor Control, Beulah and/or Neutral Milk Hotel chances are you have heard of The Apples in Stereo. Drawing influence largely from bands rooted in the 60’s era of upbeat catchy pop music The Apples in Stereo blend these pop elements with indie rock to create a sound that come across as unique in the modern music setting.
“Fun Trick Noisemaker” is The Apples in Stereo debut album and a stellar release considering. The atmosphere the album provides verges on psychedelic at times but never leaves the well established happy go lucky bubblegum pop feel. The production, constantly upbeat melodies and catchy lyrics allow for each song to remain enjoyable; feeling fresh listen after listen. The entire album makes excellent use of the ‘Wall of Sound’ recording technique that was made popular by Phil Spector’s work with The Beatles. This technique utilizes multiple guitar tracks playing identical parts layered over one another for a thick reverberant and very unique sound.
Melodically the album stays extremely interesting. Vocalist Robert Schneider masterfully crafts subtle melodic lines that stay easily ingrained in one’s mind. The simplicity of these melodies is what causes them to stay effective. Being placed over clouds of soaring background vocals only adds to the effectiveness. The melodic lines in the guitar parts are equally notable as they set the moods for each and every track. Whether it is a low or high spirit track the drums and the guitar parts are the first to identify disposition of the music being presented. “Tidal Wave” demonstrates a bouncy ascending guitar part while the drum part is carrying the music at a break neck speed. The heavily distorted bass part blends along the guitar segments as well solidifying the sonic depth of the tune. The heavily textured chorus and feeling of movement throughout the song make it the strongest and most interesting track on the album. This isn’t to say that there aren’t exponentially strong tracks deeper into this work. The first half of the release brings one strong track after the next, so on and so forth. “Glowworm” and “She’s Just like Me/Taking Time” are the only real exceptions to the albums skillfully established momentum. It is not that these numbers are poor it is just that they don’t bring the same caliber of songwriting that various other tunes on the album.
Aside from scattered feeble compositions the album does carry other negative aspects. The most notable would be the change in propulsion about three fourths of the way through the album. “Fun Trick Noisemaker” seems to take on a laid back attitude at this point. While some of the strongest songs are displayed here the rapid switch in feelings would fit more logically midway through the album chronologically speaking. Other tracks such as “Dots 1-2-3” abandon the well orchestrated and clear songwriting approach and take a turn for organized chaos. While the song is not particularly bad it does not fit into the track list in an agreeable sort of way. It almost confuses the musical palette the album does such a wonderful job of building up.
“Fun Trick Noisemaker” is an exemplary album and a wonderful debut. Like everything human it has its flaws but like anything positively memorable it does a great job of creating diversions with the powerful tracks presented. Principle songwriter Robert Schneider proves his ability and sets the groups career up with a familiar but refreshing approach to indie rock and the band supports his vision acutely. “Fun Trick Noisemaker” is a wonderful start to a budding bands superfluous discography and one can only hope the group will hold to this steam for years to come.