Album Review

Chad W. Lutz
420. Just a number to some, but for others it’s an homage to their favorite hazy hobby. It’s the resetting of the weed calendar as it were, or just another day to smoke for some of the more seasoned (or perhaps overly seasoned) veterans. But whether or not you believe the myths about its origins (police code for marijuana related crimes, Hitler’s birthday, etc.), the day still holds significance, and to some of its more blind followers, it can be the Holy Grail of days.

But on April 20th, 2010, the day meant a little bit more than just an excuse to leave work early to make sure you’re home in time for the lighting of the first 420 bowl at exactly, well, you get the idea. From Elijah Wood owned Simian Records, the synth-pop Indie sextet, Apples In Stereo, felt it was as good a day as any to release their seventh album in fifteen years in Travellers in Space and Time.

The seventeen-track album spans a modest fifty-one minutes, almost twenty minutes longer than their average album, and is the first to feature new drummer John Dufilho. It’s also the first album to include Bill Doss and John Ferguson as fixed members of the lineup.

The album totes lyrics and song titles right in step with the green holiday they chose apropos for its release date. Songs like, “Non-Pythagorean Composition No. 5,” which only appears on the vinyl release, “C.P.U.”, and “Strange Solar System” hint at the out of this world potential of the album. But is this a ship worth sailing on?

Slow and trancy, and sometimes dancy, the album infuses 80s synth-pop with a hint of psychedelia, weaving together smooth melodies and out of this world; spaceship sound effects that leave you literally feeling like you’re floating through the cosmos (Coincidence? All for you to decide). Guitar, drums, and vocals make up the main bulk of the instrumentation with synth and sound mixed for a good majority of most of the tracks.

The album’s lyrics talk about the oscillation between up and down and their relationships with each other. Dignitaries, space elevators, dance floors, computers, and strange celestial bodies are just some of the cosmopolitan chaos (somebody might have slipped something in my Appletini). “The Code”, the album’s first track kicks it off with a message from a public service announcement peon-sounding character through record scratch telling listeners how they can, “learn the code quickly,” citing that only musicians have the ability to express rhythm sonically. The album then leaps into tracks of sonic proportions, with the next track, “Dream About The Future”, wholly living up the description of sonic in every sense, asking listeners, “what do you see about the future?”

Well, it doesn’t seem like much in my opinion, considering the band is taking a sound that died almost thirty years ago and hasn’t received more than an ounce of critical acclaim in its hiatus. By the end of the album, you walk away almost feeling as if you’ve just listened to one long fifty minute song, a far cry from the sound that Apples In Stereo gained recognition for in their previous releases.

If you’re into the Neo-synth pop, mildly psychedelic (if you can actually call it that on this album) and rather dissonant sound, you’ll probably get a kick out of this album. And while, technically, this album is sound at a mechanical level, it doesn’t offer anything ear catching, even for those laced with happiness from a warm gun. But as the old saying goes, “Obla di, obla da, life goes on, bra.” But to listen to this album all the way through, you might have do a little celebrating just to get past the first few songs.