The Apples in Stereo – #1 Hits Explosion

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 4)

Am I surprised that the Apples fucked this up? I am not. I have zero objections to greatest hits collections (or best of compilations, which are technically different, though not here because the Apples never had any “hits”); they definitely serve their purpose. But there is also a right way to do them. The tragedy is that the Apples are the right kind of band for a GH album, because their work was so uneven, as they were prone to diverging from their core sound from album to album. So the trick is to pick the right songs and to present them in a sensible manner; it shouldn’t be that hard. Can you count on a band who wanders all over the map to do that? As it turns out, no. The Apples are great – but they’re also fuck-ups.

What I Think of This Album

Ultimately, this is a flawed, confusing collection – it works because the Apples wrote great songs with amazing production, so even when the selections are not ideal, it’s still a fun listen and you walk away impressed – but as a representative snapshot of the band, it’s not great. The band overemphasis certain albums, gives short shrift to arguably their best album, and otherwise chooses to include tracks that highlight their worst instead of their best attributes.

So, let’s get into it. There are two tracks off each of the first three albums:  Fun Trick Noisemaker, Tone Soul Evolution, and Her Wallpaper Reverie. The Discovery of a World Inside the Moon is represented by four selections, as is New Magnetic Wonder, while Velocity of Sound gets just one track, which is an insane decision. And then there is the song from the PowerPuff Girls soundtrack (with Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo playing on it).

The Fun Trick and Tone Soul tracks are STELLAR: “Tidal Wave,” “Winter Must Be Cold,” “Seems So,” and “Shines a Light.” “Ruby,” off of Wallpaper, is also fantastic (featuring Dressy Bessy’s Tammy Ealom on backing vocals), as is “Please” from Velocity. But only half the Discovery and New Magnetic selections make sense, and the non-album track, while perhaps understandably popular with the elementary school set, is really just filler.

To get the remaining negativity out of the way, “Strawberry Fire” is so derivative the band’s lawyers probably had aneurysms upon first listen, and in a similar vein, the ‘60’s R&B experiment of “Bird” does not really belong here. “Go!” is just a weak track that no amount of horns can salvage, while “Sun Is Out” and “Energy” are also poor selections.

Moreover, these songs are all thrown together haphazardly across the album, so the listener is jumping from sound to sound with no sense of what the hell this band was all about. But, there are still ten standout tracks here that will thrill a casual listener. I should note that the liner notes strike the right balance between reportage and cheerleading, including a nice history of the origins of the Elephant 6 endeavor. Oddly, the notes take you through the songs on the album chronologically; if nothing else, it tells you that at least the author had enough sense to figure out how the tracks should be sequenced.

The Best Thing About This Album

The title is amusing, and the liner notes are pretty valuable. I think “Winter Must Be Cold” is the highlight here.

Release Date

September, 2009

The Cover Art

Decent. The illustrated explosion obviously corresponds to the title. The band’s name takes up way too much space. The ribbon with the album title is a good choice. The color scheme also accurately reflects the sound of the music inside.

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