Though Denver’s Apples In Stereo were largely responsible for the revival of Beach Boys-style psychedelic pop, buzz dwindled after their late-’90s heyday. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they, like fellow Elephant 6 founders Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel, called it a day. (They did, in fact, go on a five-year hiatus through 2007, and front man Robert Schneider took additional time off to record a children’s album, Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine.)
Whetting appetites for the band’s seventh album (planned for release sometime next year), Schneider showcases 16 of his favorite Apples songs on #1 Hits Explosion. He gives equal attention to each phase of the band’s 16 years, charting their progress from fuzzy lo-fi (“Tidal Wave,” “Winter Must Be Cold”) to jingle-jangle sweetness (“Seems So,” “Shine a Light”) to giddy kiddie-rock (“Please,” “Can You Feel It?”). Excusing cutesy moments—such as inviting young listeners to “play a game of hide-and-seek” in 2001’s “Signal In the Sky,” pulled from a Powerpuff Girls soundtrack—there’s not a stinker in the bunch.
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Opener “Energy” gets things going with a punch, all jaunty hooks and sing-along choruses. From there, the disc bounds along with no regard for chronology. “Strawberryfire” does a lush and dreamy Sgt. Pepper thing. “The Bird That You Can’t See” is funky and danceable. Keyboard-happy “Same Old Drag” might be 2007’s most chipper little ditty about advising a friend to take meds. While you could argue that early gems such as 1995’s Fun Trick Noisemaker and 1997’s Tone Soul Evolution deserve a little more love, there’s lots here to appreciate for old or new fans making up for lost time.