Apples in Stereo – Travellers in Space and Time

January 01, 1970

(Yep
Roc)

 

www.yeproc.com

 

Maybe
Robert Schneider is in a quandary. After getting some of his songs placed in
commercials for conglomerates like Pepsi (likely covering all the college
tuition of his offspring) and having his song “Energy” performed by contestants
on that unfortunate barometer of mainstream entertainment American Idol, maybe the man behind Apples in Stereo started realizing
how easy it would be to cater his pop smarts just a tad towards that mainstream
audience in hopes of getting a little more attention. For close to the first
half of Travellers [sic] in Space and Time, the band’s seventh
album, it really sounds that way. The bland lyrics and the youthful, freshly
articulated sincerity of “Dream About the Future” make the track sound like it
wouldn’t be out of place in the Top 40 arena. But its ELO-on-vocoder/pitch
shift thing which pops up during the chorus goes down as sweetly as aspartame.
“No One” starts out hopefully with a great Bacharach-style piano riff, but if
Hal David ever built a chorus around a line as sophomoric as “There’s no one in
the world like my little girl,” the lyricist might’ve gone off Burt’s balcony
along with the Love 45 of “My Little Red Book.”

 

Around
“Dignified Dignitary,” track eight out of 16, things take a turn for the
better. The ’80s new wave-y keyboards begin to share their space with guitars,
which in this track deliver a punchy stop-start chorus. This upswing happens to
coincide with tracks that feature writing from AIS members Bill Doss, Eric
Allen and John Ferguson, for what that’s worth. Allen’s “Next Year at About the
Same Time,” in fact delivers what other tracks only hint at until then – the
catchy blend of steady bass, the right amount of keys and a feeling that
recalls ’60s garage, especially when it climaxes with a mellotron break right
before the fade. The other songwriters seem to regenerate Schneider, who
reemerges sounding more assured during the album’s later tracks. The lyrics to
“Floating in Space” also rise above the simplicity of the earlier tracks as it
continues the album’s intergalactic romance theme.

 

All the
songs on Travellers have something
going for them, either in a melody, killer chord change or arrangement that
incorporates all six band members. Schneider also has a gift for knowing how to
dresses up the songs but that skill can also make or break many of them.

 

Standout Tracks: “Next
Year at About the Same Time,” “No Vacation.” MIKE SHANLEY

 

 

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