|Her Wallpaper Reverie||1999||2.48/pi|
The Apples in Stereo, kings of retro pop, have taken “retro” a bit too far with this nano–mini-LP. 27 minutes might have made for a decent full-length in 1963, but on a $12 CD it is what we in the industry refer to as a “ripoff”.
Of course, just being short is not necessarily a problem; after all, there are plenty of long albums that could probably benefit from being pruned, and I would not hesitate to put the Sylvan Migdal Stamp of Approval on this baby if it made good use of its brief running time. Unfortunately, it turns out that 8 of these 15 tracks are short, repetitive ’experimental’ fragments—the “wallpaper” referred to in the title, it would seem, as these form a rather pointless backdrop for the six (6) real songs on here. (If you’re wondering why that only adds up to 14, the missing track is “Ruby, Tell Me”. It is one minute long, and I honestly can’t think of a more pointless way to spend 60 seconds than listening to it. Teach yourself to fart “The Star Spangled Banner” instead, maybe you’ll get on Conan O’Brian.)
So now the question becomes—what of these magical six? Well, here’s the really annoying part: “The Shiny Sea” is slow as hell and dead boring, while “Strawberryfire” is…a little less boring, I guess. but the other four are stupendous, catchy, perfect pop songs that I love to death. These four tracks are easily among the best work the band ever did. They add up to a total of exactly twelve minutes of running time.
Apparently, even the Apples conceded that this thing could use a bit more content, and they eventually remastered and repackaged the album with the b-sides of the Look Away+4 EP tacked on, plus another little song fragment and a remix of “The Shiney Sea”. This creates the illusion of turning Her Wallpaper Reverie into a real album. Sadly, the bonus tracks are mostly insubstantial. “Everybody Let Up” and “Her Pretty Face” are decent songs, but coming 17 tracks in, they are too little, too late.
So here’s my recommendation: go to your local iTunes Music Store, and download “Ruby”, “Y2K”, “Questions and Answers”, and “Benefits of Lying (With Your Friend)”. And maybe “Strawberryfire” and “The Shiny Sea” if you have an extremely high tolerance for druggy Lennonish dirges. That’s just a few bucks for an awesome little EP! Your entire life will be made slightly happier if you pretend that all the rest of this crap just doesn’t exist.