The Washington Post

Retro Future Pop: Apples in Stereo, 'Travellers in Space and Time'

YOU’D HAVE TO absolutely hate fun to not want to spend a few hours in Robert Schneider‘s world. It’s shiny and bubbly and painted with every color imaginable, and the only side effects are a strong desire to eat candy and solve differential equations.

The frontman for the Apples in Stereo, now the last founding member still in the group, has spent the last 18 years making the world a happier place through pop music, joyfully incorporating math and science to superbly crafted songs. After six full-length albums and countless side projects, Schneider is back with new and old collaborators with a follow-up to 2007’s awesome “New Magnetic Wonder.”

There’s no better review of the new album, “Travellers in Space and Time,” than Schneider’s own description: “I wanted to make a futuristic pop record, to reach out to the kids of the future,” he says. “It is what I imagine their more highly evolved pop might sound like: shiny soul music with robots and humans singing together, yet informed by the music of our time. So we are sending a pop music message through time, hoping they will decode it and be into it.”

If it’s one thing Schneider knows well, it’s highly evolved pop — he recently developed a “Non-Pythagorean musical scale” based on logarithms. While it would take a degree in math or musical theory to decode exactly how it works, it only takes a pair of ears to love “C.P.U.,” a song on the album that incorporates the scale.

What would pass as a gimmick for most bands actually stands as a testament to the talent of the enduring Apples. Working again with Elijah Wood (who also plays a part in a goofy and scientifically sketchy promo video, “Exploring the Universe“), the band has collected all the best parts of the disco era and modern indie pop and shuffled them together with a plethora of beeps, boops and clicks, and even a little falsetto, to produce a glittering gem of an album that’s as nostalgic as it is forward-looking.

The first single, “Dance Floor,” (available for free download here) is a little slow for dancing, but at least it’s about how the dance floor doesn’t exist in the future. Other memorable tracks are “Hey Elevator” and the instant classic “Dream About the Future,” which set the tone for the album of incorporating a ton of past pop influences, from Hall and Oates to the Bee Gees to the Beach Boys.

The future may be uncertain, but as long as it has the hooks of the Apples in Stereo, it’s definitely something to look forward to.

» Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE; with Generationals and Laminated Cat; Sun., April 18, 8:30 p.m. (doors 7:30), $15; 202-388-7625.

Written by Express contributor Afton Lorraine Woodward
Photo by Joshua Kessler



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Rudi Greenberg · April 13, 2010