Plumbiferous Media

Travellers in Space and Time – The Apples in Stereo

Apr 25th 2010
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Travellers in Space and Time - The Apples in StereoThe Apples in Stereo
Travellers in Space and Time
Score: 77

The Apples in Stereo, one of the more well known Elephant 6 graduates, released its seventh album this past Tuesday, and as always, The Apples has come in force with its fairly unconventional take on pop. Travellers in Space and Time is a consistently enjoyable album, and on many tracks, much more. Travellers is not always perfect, excellent, or amazing, but it never strays below being good.

Following the oddly archival intro to Travellers, the familiar energy of Robert Schneider’s voice soars into the album with the phenomenal “Dream About the Future.” Always possessed of an infectious joy that quickly spreads to Apples in Stereo’s already strikingly vivid sound, Schneider gives the music a transcendent vocal element as he cries out the often odd and always entertaining words of Travellers. Schneider switches effortlessly between love songs: “Dream About the Future”‘s “When I tell you it’s not over / You don’t believe me,” and “Strange Solar System”‘s futuristic musing.

Travellers uses the familiar mix of Schneider’s naturally animated vocals and heavy, near-robotic processing to create the unearthly sound (often layered with Schneider’s unprocessed voice) seen on tracks such as “Strange Solar System,” which creates an entertaining mix of indie and psychedelic styles. Combined with an eclectic mix of lyrical subjects, this creates a quite diverse vocal element to the album, making the lack of diversity through the rest of the album all the more unfortunate.

On Travellers in Space and Time, The Apples in Stereo uses a dense sound, packed with a wide variety of instruments, electronic and otherwise, all working very closely with one another to create whatever sound is necessary on any particular track – not a huge surprise. Also not terribly surprisingly, Travellers contains some spectacular results. Immediately following the opening sound clip is “Dream about the Future,” a quirky, cheery (despite the lyrics), dense, but by no means confusing, horribly catchy, and ultimately excellent track.

But “Dream about the Future” was a terrific track on its own; why The Apples decided to follow it with a few more tracks that sounded almost exactly the same is not easily determinable. In general, the biggest problem with Travellers is that the inventiveness that permeates the instrumentation does not always permeate tracks’ designs. Far too many tracks on Travellers sound far too similar, and other tracks sound little better than newly orchestrated rehashes of tracks you feel you must have heard before. Still, Travellers in Space and Time is always enjoyable, a great album in any setting, from an acoustically designed room with a 50 thousand dollar audio system to a college dorm with a 600 watt subwoofer.

When Travellers is good, it’s excellent. “Dream About the Future,” which is quite likely one of the band’s best tracks in almost two decades of music, bears testimony to this fact. At the same time, it’s certainly disappointing that much of the rest of the album doesn’t contain the same level of creative genius as those inspired sections. Much of the album seems very similar, which isn’t horrible given that even mediocre material from such a creative band comes out above-average, but after sixteen tracks, a decent majority of which seem repetitive, such a trend begins to eclipse the excellence. As such, Travellers as a whole is good; it’s just not great.

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