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The Apples in Stereo

Velocity of Sound (SpinArt)

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As if there were any doubt after 2000's effervescent The Discovery of the World Inside the Moone, this short sugar blast is where Robert Schneider and his musical companions definitively transcend their '60s dream-pop niche. This time, they do it by copping the spirit of the hard retro-rock trend, compacting Schneider's high, nasal vocals and super-catchy tunes into fuzzy guitar speedballs so concentrated, even the song titles get cut to their romantic conceptual essence -- "I Want," "Mystery," "Baroque."

Since no '60s band ever smacked its bubble gum with this kind of brio, the disc's closest precursor is, oddly enough, the Ramones' debut, which tried to create boy rock as innocent as Phil Spector's girl-group pop. Velocity of Sound isn't half as revolutionary as that -- if anything, it shortchanges the world of recombinant ideas that the Apples explored last time out. But with two key tracks sung by Schneider's life companion, drummer Hilarie Sidney, and a mock Beach Boys "Bonus Track" snitching on a mean little liar, it makes the past sound as new as any sneering sing-along from our unholy retro-rock trinity, the Strokes, Hives, and White Stripes (amen).

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