The History of Apple Pie: Feel Something

The conversation surrounding London five-piece the History of Apple Pie’s 2013 debut album Out Of View focused on the young group’s rigid devotion to the sound of ‘90s indie rock. This wasn’t a case of laziness, however—they really did sound like a group celebrating the fuzzed-out golden age of college radio. Guitarist Jerome Watson told that they “never intentionally copied or referenced anything, it’s just come from whatever we’ve been listening to and what moods we’re in while we’re demoing,” but in other interviews, he and his bandmates referenced My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Pixies as influences—perhaps not coincidentally, the type of acts they often get compared to. Save for a new bassist, second outing Feel Something offers no major changes from their first outing, with the Horrors‘ Joshua Third returning for production duties; the record’s an occasionally solid listen that comes across as pleasant and nothing more.

Granted, the History Of Apple Pie are hardly the only group borrowing liberally from the ’90s two decades later—but in 2014, artists such as Parquet Courts and White Lung have taken heavy cues from the same time period in winning fashion, convincing listeners that old sounds can sound urgent. Feel Something, meanwhile, sounds knotted to the past, with many of these songs sticking to a vague, shoegaze-y noise pop formula. “Don’t You Wanna Be Mine” is all feedback-dipped strumming and lead singer Stephanie Min’s vocals, which building up to a distorted guitar hook; the squalling “Special Girl” and somewhat zippier “Ordinary Boy” follow the same formula, and piano plonks on “Tame” aren’t enough of a change-up to set the tune’s guitar solo apart from the other ones that pop up across the album.

On Feel Something, the History of Apple Pie’s decision to play it down the middle hampers them. Despite the swirling presence of shoegaze, they never let the guitars overpower Min’s lithe singing, bringing their sound closer to the “pop” side of noise pop. That’s not a bad approach, necessarily, as Min’s voice remains the most consistent element on Feel Something, and it provides an anchor for some great melodies—but this approach also leaves many songs, such as the galloping “Keep Wondering”, caught weakly between two poles, and Min’s lyrics aren’t interesting enough to stand up on their own.

So not much has changed between the History of Apple Pie’s first two albums, but Feel Something does lack one element that made Out of View a stronger listen—namely, immediate songs that barrel forward in a way that transcends spot-the-genre mimicry. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by the past, but it’s important to make such pilfering sound fun. This record offers up a few examples—the psychedelic-edged “Jamais Vu”, the chugging “Snowball”, which also boasts the album’s best hook—that highlight the group’s knack for finding a great melody and running with it. Otherwise, Feel Something is a so-so listen that never rises above the band’s influences.  

from Album Reviews – Pitchfork