More than four years after Velocity Of Sound, Robert Schneider and company are back with the ambitious 24-track New Magnetic Wonder. Their first for actor Elijah Wood's new Simian label turns out to be the last for long-time drummer/singer Hilarie Sidney, who split after the recording. Don't take the long list of guest contributors as an indication that New Magnetic Wonder is any less of a Schneider affair; it actually means just the opposite. He's turned the clock back to the Fun Trick Noisemaker era of playful psychedelic indulgence that was the Apples' stock in trade before the unsavoury aspirations of indie-rock stardom took hold. There's a charming irreverence to these songs, which sound like they could've been conceived as an alternate H.R. Pufnstuf soundtrack. And you just know who's gonna want to play Jimmy in the big-budget Hollywood remake... yep, this whole Simian thing is starting to make sense.
The Apples in Stereo play Lee's Palace February 20.