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Apples in Stereo Return to Rock

LUKE BURBANK, host:

The Colorado band, Apples in Stereo is known for eccentric, '60s-inspired guitar pop, a sound that it's been honing for more than a decade. Well, after a five-year hiatus, Apples in Stereo is back with a new CD called "New Magnetic Wonder." Rolling Stone contributing editor Christian Hoard has this review.

(Soundbite of song, "Can You Feel It?")

APPLES IN STEREO (Rock Band): (Singing) Oh, can you feel it? Oo, can you feel it?

CHRISTIAN HOARD: That's "Can You Feel It," the opening track on "New Magnetic Wonder," the latest album by the Apples in Stereo. The Apples have been making this kind of bright, slightly-retro guitar pop since the mid-90s. Around that time, Apple's leader Robert Schneider founded The Elephant Six Collective, a group of bands devoted to eccentric, mildly psychedelic sonics, as well as '60s forebears like The Beach Boys.

The Apples practiced those things, and their almost geeky affection for their work helped make them loveable, as did the very good songs they wrote. "New Magnetic Wonder" proves that after a five-year layoff, the Apples' sound hasn't changed much. Even better, their considerable skills haven't eroded at all.

(Soundbite of music)

APPLES IN STEREO: (Singing) And the world is (unintelligible) energy. And the world is (unintelligible). And the world is…

HOARD: You'd be hard pressed to find another recent album with as many good melodies as "New Magnetic Wonder," but the record is about more than catchy tunes. Throughout the album, you might hear traces of The Beatles and the Kinks, as well as more obscure '60s bands and '70s progressive-poppers ELO.

(Soundbite of music)

APPLES IN STEREO: (Singing) Joey, don't you worry, there is so much you have yet to see. Joey, don't you worry…

HOARD: "New Magnetic Wonder" also has gurgling keyboards, whimsical sound effects, experimental snippets, fluttery backing vocals and raw bone riffs. But the Apples in Stereo aren't mere retro-minded copycats, and these songs never sound overstuffed. The overall effect is exuberance, mingling with craft and loads of ideas.

(Soundbite of song, "Same Old Drag")

HOARD: Even most of the sad songs sound bright and inviting, like this one: "Same Old Drag."

(Soundbite of song, "Same Old Drag")

APPLES IN STEREO: (Singing) Tony make your mind up, use your imagination…

HOARD: If "New Magnetic Wonder" sounds like it's full of surface pleasures, well, that's partly the point. It's pop, after all. But there's not a bad cut on the album, and the songs are deceptively simple.

(Soundbite of song, "Sunndal Song")

HOARD: Rarely is guitar pop done this well, and rarely does a guitar-pop album hold up this well.

(Soundbite of song, "Sunndal Song")

HOARD: I'll leave you with "Sunndal Song." It's sung by the Apples' former drummer, who recently left the band, and it's yet another example of impeccably-crafted good vibes.

(Soundbite of song, "Sunndal Song")

APPLES IN STEREO: (Singing) In tiger town, the (unintelligible) me, and it's trying to bring to me down. And all her forward (unintelligible) moving to the ground.

BURBANK: The CD is "New Magnetic Wonder." The band is Apples in Stereo. Madeleine, I can't tell you how long I was listening to apples in mono. It's really a relief that we've got it, you know, 21st century here. Our reviewer is Rolling Stone contributing editor, Christian Hoard.

(Soundbite of song, "Sunndal Song")

APPLES IN STEREO: (Singing) Oh, when you're down, I'll lift you up. I'll be the one who's always sure of where you are and all the things you need to know. And when you're tired and (unintelligible) light to shine on you, you'll see your place for me to show you.

LUKE BURBANK and MADELEINE BRAND, hosts:

More to come on DAY TO DAY - in stereo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christian Hoard