Horrors-endorsed east Londoners plunder the styles of the newly chic ’90s. Tasty treat or dog’s dinner?
Like close contemporaries Yuck, east London’s The History Of Apple Pie hark back to a time when grunge was primed to explode and ‘wet-look’ was seen as a good thing for both hair gel and leggings. They couldn’t be more early ’90s if they came with Global Hypercolour sweat patches.
Of course, in the two years since Yuck’s self-titled debut surfaced, the 20th century’s final decade has become the hottest thing in hipsterdom, with London trendies swapping boat shoes for creepers and skinny jeans for, well, wet-look leggings. Even Pixie Geldof thinks she’s one of US alt.rockers Mazzy Star in her new band Violet.
So is there any need for The History Of Apple Pie, with their transparently obvious nods to My Bloody Valentine, The Breeders and numberless shoegaze pop outfits of the era? Um, probably not. Do they look like they give a fuck? Hell nah! And ‘Out Of View’, engineered by The Horrors’ Josh Hayward, is noisy, irreverent fun.
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.