Today is “track day” and, as with most things these days it scares the living bejesus outta me. I mean, me? On a track? Surely you jest? Fat guys have about as much place on a running track as Michael Vick does at a PETA rally. But then again, as with most things these days, this is just another example of my needing to get out from my “comfort zone”. Fortunately, there is a 400m track located at the local Crystal Beach High School exactly 1.5k away – which provides a good warm up and warm down – so here goes nothing. Hey, at least it’s not raining.
Today’s motivation through 10 sets of 300m “sprints” (more like a giant tortoise lumbering along the Galápagos island really) is the ‘New Magnetic Wonder‘ album by The Apples In Stereo.
This album (released in 2007) represented the bands return after a five-year hiatus, is was likely one of their best records in a career made up of consistently fine recordings.
Anyone expecting a return to the experimental, lo-fi wizardry of their early albums may feel let down however, but never fear! What they have delivered instead is a crisply recorded set of bouncing rockers, sweetly strummed ballads, and vaguely trippy mid-tempo tracks that are full of hooks, melodies, and goofy fun.
Over a base of solidly rocking bass, guitar, and drums, the band and their cohorts (the credits read like an E6 who’s who, including Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, create a rich soundscape of Mellotron, backing vocals, percussion, and vintage keyboards that envelops the record in a warm and lush haze at times and fills it with sunshine at others. Even more than previous Apples releases, it’s a record that won’t win any points for being profound or meaningful. Tracks like ‘Can You Feel It?‘ or ‘Energy‘ are breezy to the point of invisible – and not exactly the hepped up motivation I might have been looking for at the time honestly – but if they don’t get you singing along like a fool right away, you’ve probably come to the wrong party and should go find a Bright Eyes record instead.
The more sedate tunes that dominate the second half of the record, like the yearning and psychedelic ‘Open Eyes‘ or the melancholy ‘Radiation’, give the album some balance (and in the Mellotron-soaked epic ‘Beautiful Machine, Pts. 3-4‘, one of the record’s finest moments), but it’s the charming fluff like ‘Same Old Drag‘ and ‘Play Tough‘ that wins the day in the end. Honestly, as good as these tracks are I should have probably rearranged them to the beginning of the workout during the warmup rather than leaving them at the end for the final few 300m repeats but, ‘c’est la vie…‘ I guess.
Unfortunately though, using the track today didn’t exactly work out since there the school was actually using it for the first time, like, ever…so I had to alter my route down Nigh Rd. and back up Centralia and the Friendship Trail (directly into the headwinds I might add). And I do use the term “using it” lightly, as it more or less looked to me like a bunch of students sitting on the benches flipping water bottles and playing with their spinning fidget whatchamafuckits. A sadder example of a “track meet” there will never be, I assure you. Which is all fine and dandy because had I been able to actually use it the kids would inevitably have looked out their classroom windows to see some weirdo in stretchy pants trying to sprint around the track while singing to himself.
Not likely far off this mark:
So, yeah, you’re welcome, kids.
I now return you to your spinning fidget whatchamafuckits.