Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Apples in Stereo

  • Fun Trick Noisemaker [SpinArt, 1995] Dud
  • Tone Soul Evolution [Sire/Warp, 1996] A-
  • Her Wallpaper Reverie [SpinArt, 1999] Choice Cuts
  • The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone [SpinArt, 2000] A-
  • Let's Go! [SpinArt, 2001] *
  • Velocity of Sound [SpinArt, 2002] A-
  • New Magnetic Wonder [Yep Roc, 2007] A
  • Electronic Projects for Musicians [Yep Roc, 2008] ***
  • Travellers in Space and Time [Yep Roc, 2010] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Fun Trick Noisemaker [SpinArt, 1995] Dud

Tone Soul Evolution [Sire/Warp, 1996]
Robert Schneider's second pass at homemade Beatles conquers his embarrassment over how much he adores this stuff. Stripped of sonic camouflage, the songs are consistently pretty, fanciful, and slight, as clear as existential questions can be. Half a dozen ways he wonders whether he can lose himself forever in this music--and by so doing, find himself. You don't have to believe in harmony to grant him the right to try. A-

Her Wallpaper Reverie [SpinArt, 1999]
"Ruby"; "Questions and Answers" Choice Cuts

The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone [SpinArt, 2000]
Alternative young people may need all the Beatles/Spector-Wilson/Zep-Sly foofaraw to grasp a band who avoid roots sound effects yet put songwriting first. To me they're just syncretic, like all pop if you listen deep, only here shallow will do fine. In typical Elephant Six fashion, they're busy and fussy and can't stop their minds from wandering. But with Robert Schneider fixing the holes, the lyrics swirl around sensibly and the formidable tunesmithing never goes down the drain. Nostalgic and in love with love, he's as American as all get-out or Steve Earle. A-

Let's Go! [SpinArt, 2001]
best of the Powerpuff Girls plus collectibles ("Heroes and Villains," "Signal in the Sky [produced version]") *

Velocity of Sound [SpinArt, 2002]
After years of taking the band name literally, I realized that not even Magical Mystery Tour was this arch. If Robert Schneider's falsetto affect evokes the '60s, it's such extreme cases as the Hollies of "Carrie-Anne" and the Small Faces of "Itchycoo Park," a narrow frame of reference even as formalism goes. Here it's played for teen ambience rather than musicianly musing. The gurl cameos help, as does the antigurl Beach Boys closer, but since the teens it speaks for are as imaginary as the era it honors, that Schneider (just barely) brings the conceit off is the usual tribute to his songwriting chops. If he had anything to say, he could be a contender. A-

New Magnetic Wonder [Yep Roc, 2007]
Rock 'n' roll doesn't need Robert Schneider's "non-Pythagorean" scales to combat mind-body dualism. But Schneider's romance with ELO was just what he needed to add heft to his Beatles fixation--the aura of middlebrow seriousness puts his formalist musings on track. "And the world is made of energy/And the world is possibility" is Heraclitean pop at its cutest and acutest, the drug advice addresses prescription meds and he understands the fatal parallel between information and radiation, which is that too much of either can make you sick. Even the Mellotron interludes compute on the album where the Elephant Six finally get their shtick together. A

Electronic Projects for Musicians [Yep Roc, 2008]
Spiffed up a bit, their odds and sods beat most theoretical pop bands' theoretical keepers ("Hold on to This Day," "Man You Gotta Get Up"). ***

Travellers in Space and Time [Yep Roc, 2010]
Who most of the time think it's historically correct, or maybe just cute, to sound like cyborgs ("Nobody but You," "Told You Once"). ***