The new Apples In Stereo album, Travellers (sic) In Space and Time, finds the band traveling back to the ’70s and ’80s to dutifully recreate the sound of pop music at the time. Frontman Robert Schneider calls it “retro-futuristic super-pop.” Retro it certainly is, futuristic I certainly hope it is not, and super is quite a stretch. Let’s just say that I don’t get it. If you want to screw around in your studio, more power to you, but don’t ask people to pay for the privilege of hearing your musings. I am not generally given to writing negative reviews of indie-bands, but this just made me mad.
Travellers is more of an exercise than an album, and with its 16 tracks (yes, two of them are under a minute long), it’s simply too long. Is the length a statement on the excess that characterized those earlier decades, or is the statement of a band that is a little too taken with itself? I’ve made it clear in the past that excessive length is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to albums, and this one hits my last nerve in that regard.
Make no mistake, there is nothing wrong with the songwriting here. Almost all of the tracks are catchy in one way or another. I imagine that the band thought it would be fun to try to mimic the sounds of their youth. It’s not. What’s disappointing is that I know that the Apples have done some really good work in the past. I was looking forward to this album. The reason it took me so long to write about it is because I listened to it over and over in an attempt to be one of the cool kids who get it. Apparently I’m not.
Travellers represents a change in direction, and changing course in mid-career is admirable for any artist. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the new direction will be well-chosen however. A failed attempt at something new is honorable, but Travellers In Space and Time is not that. It’s cynical, silly, and overblown. Worse yet, it represents several hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
The video should tell you everything that you need to know.
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