The quintet’s songwriting partnership – romantic duo Stephanie Min and Jerome Watson – know instinctively that the trick to pulling off this shtick is to give it some welly and look like you’re enjoying yourselves. As such, opener ‘Tug’ (digging the MBV-esque innuendo there, guys) rattles by with an urgency that borders on majestic. ‘Mallory’ has a terrific, needling riff and totally masters the sweet/sour thing in a way that recalls Kim Deal snorting popping candy. And ‘You’re So Cool’ adds girl-pop touches to the fuzz-laden sound to winning effect – again, not a new idea, but nicely underplayed.
Watson’s squally guitar soloing can lack imagination at times, but the muscularity with which he attacks the sawing chorus on ‘Glitch’, another standout, demands cap-doffage, and he repeats the trick on the bad-tempered ‘Do It Wrong’. In contrast, Min’s vocals evoke sleepytime divas like Bilinda Butcher and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, offering a calm counterpoint to the album’s clatter but never really matching the sensuality of either.
Sometimes, the overweening air of ’90s-ness takes a turn into vaguely Britpop territory – they’re big fans of Pulp and post-‘The Great Escape’ Blur, apparently – and the genre’s preoccupation with sing-song melody comes to the fore. ‘See You’, for instance, could almost pass for early Lush, with added volume. And parts of the record even recall Sheffield’s Longpigs. Anyone?
You could argue that there’s something vapid about ‘Out Of View’ and its pining for an era when guitar bands really meant a damn. But when the filling’s this good, there’s no sense worrying about the shelf-life of Pie.
Over triple-pasteurized shoegaze pop, courtesy of guitarist Jerome Watson and bassist Kelly-Lee Owens, Min croons at mid-level, gliding with ease through heavy runners “The Warrior”, “Do It Wrong”, and album highlight “See You”. It’s a cache of catchy flavors, the sort of bubble gum sticky shit that you can’t help but chew repeatedly, and it’s made satisfactory through the brilliant self-production.
As tracks like “Mallory”, “Glitch”, and “I Want More” suggest, there’s an emotionalism that stems from the hooks to the sheen to the teenage melancholia that Min clenches on lyrically. Every phrase gushes with vagaries, but there’s just enough light to see one’s own hands — it’s transmutable. That’s what pop needs and what most pop forgets.
So, while there’s really no need for any more outfits attempting shoegaze — especially with the greying veterans returning to the fold — The History of Apple Pie puts their Keds in the door just before it closes. Seriously, though: “See You” might be the strongest Silversun Pickups song in years and we can only hope there’s at least one song on My Bloody Valentine’s forthcoming effort that’s as good as the dizzying “Long Way to Go”.