Only a year after the release of its studio debut, British quintet The History of Apple Pie tries to perfect and tweak its image with Feel Something. A Shoegaze band straight out of London, The History of Apple Pie harkens back to the likes of early ’90s British rock bands such Lush, Ride, and Slowdive. The History of Apple Pie is a guitar-heavy, grunge-pop group spiced up with a thin layer of funk. Having emerged from obscurity last year, the British rockers saw its debut record appear in the top 10 of multiple British charts, and have since gained a reputation both at home and internationally.
The History of Apple Pie tends more toward a pop-centric vibe with this new release—this is its attempt to differentiate itself from the various other groups who have tried to revive the Shoegaze genre as of late. The band replaced its former bassist with newcomer Joanna Curwood for this project, and put drummer James Thomas in a more prominent role—in an effort to expanded to a larger, more diverse audience with less of a genre-specific sound.
The album is marred, however by a repetitive rhythm which spans the entire record, as well as a lack of convincing lyrics (or, really, even audible lyrics).
The first track on the album, “Come Undone,” does a fantastic job of setting the stage for the rest of the record, almost to a fault. “Come Undone” shows promise, with gloriously spastic drumbeats and a quick, heavy, complementary guitar. Singer Stephanie Min sounds excellent at the head of the group, but what she is saying is almost entirely inaudible, drowned out by the band’s loud instrumental backing. Min’s lyrics are imperceptible across the whole album, and since it’s hard to focus on the meaning behind the songs, the listener’s attention is directed toward the compelling, holistic sound of the project.
Each song on Feel Something offers either an appealing new concept or sound, but often, the group will abandon what worked mid-track or not fully realize its potential. For instance, the first six seconds of the song “tame” feature a cool mix of keyboard and acoustic guitar, only to be stamped out entirely by a repetitive keyboard / electric lead guitar groove. This groove is fully supported by Thomas’ performance on the drums, making for a somewhat interesting, almost cosmic guitar riff, but at this point, the magic of the song’s interlude is lost.
There are a few tracks that break away from the flawed formula of the record. “Jamais Vu” and “Puzzles” are notable for their electric flare and catchy rhythms. These songs are hopefully indicative of the group’s future direction. “Puzzles” in particular has a dynamic and explorative sound, making it the strong track on the entire album. It’s also the song in which Min can be heard best, and her voice complements the tone of the song quite well. In the case of “Shake,” the vocal contributions of guest Gary Jarman of The Cribs are refreshing, but he does not encourage Min to bolster her own performance. She is again too quiet.
With any luck, Feel Something is the first step in a journey toward rediscovery and innovation for The History of Apple Pie. The band’s sound and vision are extremely intriguing, but it appears its fault lies with the execution—The History of Apple Pie ultimately flounders in its attempt to reach out to a wider audience. Min’s quietness is also an incredible weakness in the band’s sound. While it may be the intention for her to be overpowered by the epic instrumentals surrounding her, Min’s quietness detracts greatly from the lyrics at play. The History of Apple Pie has a lot to work on before its next release.
Featured Image Courtesy Of Marshall Teller Records