Is there a peppier performer than the Apples' Robert Schneider? Although he's never achieved the sort of commercial breakthrough that's long seemed his due, this former Denver resident remains upbeat and ready for anything, as he proved on a January episode of the Colbert Report by enthusiastically belting out an ode to the program's satire-happy host, Stephen Colbert. Wonder, the Apples' first studio set in five years, continues this tradition, and that's sure to displease Schneider-bashers, who find his relentless sunniness oppressive. But he's too cheery to let that stop him.
The disc's sound couldn't be cleaner or punchier, and melodies like those in "Beautiful Machine" prove that Schneider is still Captain Hook. As for the lyrics, they brim with the usual optimism. "Energy," featuring couplets such as "There's a light inside of you/And a light inside of me," generates a welcome jolt. And despite its comparatively gloomy title, "Same Old Drag" is anything but.
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Steer clear of this disc, curmudgeons -- because Schneider's determined to turn your frown upside down.