It’s January. The snow is gone. Christmas is gone. And all you have to fill the void in your life is work, family and other daily hassles. Enter The Apples In Stereo. Their latest offering ‘New Magnetic Wonder’ is some of the best, most cheerful home-grown indie-pop music there’s ever been. This is a hark back to when the pop music heard on the radio actually meant something to people. It’s (mostly) a happy record, but it’s not forcibly holding your head under the sand, denying that there’s crap in the world. Instead it says, “Rest assured, there is crap, but let’s ignore it for now”. Smitten with ELO, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and various other prime cuts of yesteryear, ‘NMW’ houses 24 tracks, only around two thirds of which are actual songs; the rest are short, weird filler tracks. This may sound like padding but they serve the function of making the album fit together perfectly; it gives you breathing space, so by the time the next song comes on you never want to turn the record off. The actual songs are so great you’ll be listening to this over and over again until you know each one like the back of your eyelids. The opener ‘Can You Feel It’ is a call-to-arms for everyone who lives through their headphones, demanding you to “Turn up your stere-oh-oh”. ‘7 Stars’ is an insanely charming disgruntled astronomy nerd’s love letter and ‘Energy’ is virtually a meaningless 3-minute chorus (with one verse) which you won’t stop singing by the time it ends. Despite so much of it being up and catchy, occasionally the album tosses you rare snatches as to what’s happening within the band itself. Robert Schneider and drummer Hilarie Sidney were in the throes of divorce and his wounded ‘Play Tough’ is full of the dazed confusion of a sudden end to a relationship while Sidney’s ‘Sunndal Song’ is either a love song to her new husband or a sorry goodbye to her ex. Either way, both of them could sit comfortably on a 21st century version of ‘Rumours’. Mostly however, the album throws out great song after great song with shamelessly uplifting choruses and rapturous guitar melodies and the odd vocoder dabble.
This is DIY retro pop music which matches ambition with talent and quirk. What really sets it apart is the fact that the band sound like music fans rather than any mythologised musicians. Even if they got ridiculously famous, sold out stadiums and each of their faces replaced the billboards at Picadilly Circus, they’d still just be four average guys from Brooklyn who happen to make near-perfect pop music, and near-perfect is certainly is.
Listen to this: on the way home from a bad day.