This 100 percent unfun album is the kind of artifact that would sell millions if artists like Tommy Keene, Sloan, Matthew Sweet and the Apples in Stereo ruled the Billboard top 10. That is, if myopic indie-rock fans got their secret wish of watching their little corner of the world expand to "Titanic" proportions in the cultural marketplace. Now, I like all of the artists mentioned above. But when they and their ilk represent the outermost parameters of one's pop universe, I begin to suspect that the Beatlesque harmonies or arrangements or whatnot that these musicians traffic in function as a nostalgia security blanket.
Good thing for the rest of the world, then, that Nick Heyward won't have Ms. Dion searching frantically for a copy of Rubber Soul (much less Pelican West, his sole album with the barely new-wave new-wave band Haircut 100) anytime soon. So then, what to do with a "pop" album from a man who once said, "the love songs I write have got different lyrics; I use words like Toblerone, Norway, tea and scones"? Given that The Apple Bed is such an egregious example of Beatlesque whatnot, I thought it would be more fun to play a little match game rather than go through the dreary motions of actually reviewing it.
Here's how to play. Steal a copy of The Apple Bed from a jangle-obsessed indie boy or your local new-wave scholar. Listen to it once, which is more than enough times to score high. Then simply match the Apple Bed song on the left with the Beatles song it unimaginatively quotes or rips off, on the right.
Answers: 1. D. ("She's Leaving Home" seems to be Nick's fave Beatles song, since two or three more songs on The Apple Bed can be said to have aped the doleful Sgt. Pepper's melody.) 2. F. (Stop "In Every Place" right after the first three words Nick sings. Can't you just hear "And I Love Her" continuing in your head?) 3. A. (Baroque horns will out! I'd also accept "I Am The Walrus" for that boring build part.) 4. C. (Okay, this isn't a Beatles song; it's by Big Star. But Beatles-obsessives count as much as the Fab Four themselves. I'd also accept Big Star's "Mod Lang" for the way Heyward's build resembles Alex Chilton's brilliant nothing of a guitar solo.) 5. B. 6. H. (Paul McCartney listened to Pet Sounds a lot, so the Beach Boys count too.) 7. G. (Gee, at least McCartney put a song over his string quartet.) 8. E. (This is a Sloan song, but I mention it for how gloriously it references the outside world, not a strong Heywardian quality).
7 - 8 correct: Hip-hop-hooray for you!
4 - 6 correct: Don't worry about it.
0 - 3 correct: Who cares? Don't you have better things to do?
(The Apple Bed was recorded on Big Deal, a label owned by TCI/Paradigm, the parent company of SonicNet.)