The terribly named London five-piece The History Of Apple Pie has arrived on these shores seemingly hellbent on resurrecting nineties indie guitar pop like the last decade or so never happened. On the basis of Out Of View, their solid and occasionally terrific debut album, the band is perfectly welcome to do so.
The new album comes out of the gates with the strident “Tug,” a song that arrives with a convertible-with-the-top-down, driving-down-the-highway vibe. It instantly recalls carefree youth, yet within thirty seconds of the track’s opening, it has already gained layer upon layer of guitar. The song boasts an addictive momentum and confidence that suggests the band knows exactly where it is they are supposed to be.
“Tug” is immediately followed by “See You,” arguably the album’s strongest song, where the dreamy twin vocals of Stephanie Min and Kelly-Lee Owens whisper sweet nothings like “I hear your voice in my ear telling me to come for you” over a backing track that sounds like My Bloody Valentine soundtracking a teen movie.
“Mallory” completes a sugar rush trilogy of opening tracks, all with unabashedly huge choruses and guitar lines that feel like wind tunnels. It’s an immensely impressive start, and one that sees the songwriting team of vocalist Min and lead guitarist Jerome Watson at their most impressive. The fact that they are a real-life couple may go some way to explaining the carefree feel of those songs.
Throughout the album, The History of Apple Pie reveals that they do have other tricks up their sleeve. “Glitch” delivers a slightly more bass-heavy feel and tones back the wall-of-sound guitars, while “You’re So Cool” plays up the romanticism with an almost audible sigh. It is the most prominent example of the band’s winningly naive embrace of the joys of youth, a seemingly inexhaustible subject matter for young guitar bands, and it also pushes those twin female vocals to the foreground, sounding like Satuki Matsuzaki of Deerhoof at her sweetest and least manic.
Where the band stumbles is in the middle ground. The songs that are neither joyously bouncy nor completely laid back do tend to meander and sound pedestrian by comparison. “The Warrior” brings about something of a mid-album lull, and “I Want More” in particular, while boasting a pleasantly fuzzy texture, drifts by for over five minutes and almost kills the momentum completely. Fortunately, it is followed by the hard-edged “Do It Wrong,” which both acts as a real wake-up call and introduces a strong closing trio of songs.
It is these last three tracks that may provide some clues as to whether The History Of Apple Pie is more than a one-trick pony. “Before You Reach The End” feels like a deliberate statement of intent to close out the record. At six minutes in length, and with its effects-filled intro, menacing chord progression, and feedback-drenched climax, the track is a signifier of a potential future direction for the band. It is also a surprising look forward on an album that seems so preoccupied with living in the moment.
Out Of View does have its lulls, and the band could do with being a little more ruthless with their editing. There is an even better album in here that’s maybe only five or six minutes shorter. Nevertheless, they possess a grasp of songwriting and dynamics that is increasingly rare in British guitar music, and the formula they establish here — along with the variety they strive to show — suggests real promise. That might be one of the more awkward band names of recent times, but since when has that ever been an obstacle to success?
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