The Apples in Stereo Travellers in Space and Time(Yep Roc) Buy it from Insound
It’s pretty easy say The Elephant 6 was the best thing to happen to the ‘90s. Between the collective brilliance of Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, The Olivia Tremor Control and other, more unrepresented bands, its musical lineage is easily one of the most impressive in indie rock’s brief history.
That brings us to The Apples in Stereo. One of the founders of Elephant 6, they’ve always been more musically approachable than their counterparts, (and un-coincidentally, more commercially prominent,) but they’ve never really replicated the divergent brilliance of the collective’s other acts. They don’t have an undisputed classic like Aeroplane or Dusk at Cubist Castle, and at this point, it doesn’t look like we’re ever going to get one. 2007’s comeback New Magnetic Wonder was fine, and occasionally delightful, but hardly long-lasting, and their latest effort Travellers in Space and Time follows that benignity to a point. Everything is airbrushed, vocoder’d, and ready for your mom and dad.
Travellers in Space and Time is curiously light on guitar, most of the time opting for a beamed-down synthesizer – which I guess is expected, I mean, look at the title of the record. Robert Schneider is his usual girly-man self, singing about 5th-grade love, science fiction, and other childhood relics; just like his hero Brian Wilson. It’s all at least initially palatable, but the wretched vocoder does make an extended appearance through the tracks, and like before it quickly outstays its welcome, slowly evolving from a harmless gimmick to a full-on annoyance, and the record does occasionally hit the unpretentious peaks it aspires to. Those are gratifying of course, but there’s a lot of filler to slog through before you arrive there.
There is absolutely nobody in the world but hardcore Apples in Stereo fans that need to hear Travellers in Space and Time, it’s a record as slight as they come. These hooks, lyrics, and kitsch are so unnecessary, and have already been updated by younger, better bands, you question the entire existence of the album, which in my experience, isn’t a good sign.3 May, 2010 - 14:59 — Luke John Winkie