In 1996, The Apples in Stereo released a compilation of singles and EPs entitled Science Faire. Since then, the group has gone on to release numerous full-length albums, including last year’s successful New Magnetic Wonder. Picking up where Science Faire left off, Electronic Projects for Musicians brings together some of the best b-sides and rarities from 1995-2006, including two previously unreleased songs ("Stephen Stephen" from Robert Schneider's appearance on The Colbert Report and an outtake from Tone Soul Evolution entitled "Dreams").
Despite the twelve year span, the sound is cohesively Apples in Stereo: pop-rock with an electronic edge, mixed gender vocals, and a slightly nerdy twee-ness. On its own, each track on Electronic Projects for Musicians is capable of making an Apples in Stereo fan wet their pants in excitement, but they don't necessarily work together to build a thematic album. The quintessential Apples in Stereo pop-rock dance track "Man You Gotta Get Up" is followed by "The Golden Flower," a trippy and subdued soundscape, and then retro-ish "Avril En Mai." At this point, the listener is in an electronic pop-rock bliss, but suddenly a lo-fi acoustic track ("Hold On To This Day") jars the listener back to reality.
In general, songs don't become b-sides and rarities because they were too good to fit onto any one album. The tracks that stand out on Electronic Projects for Musicians tend to be those that appeared as bonuses for foreign releases, such as "Shine (In Your Mind)" and "Other," or on 7" records, such as "Man You Gotta Get Up." The other, more rare and unreleased tracks, are fun for a fan, but not necessarily the best representations of what this band is capable of doing. One exception to that is the song "Dream," which is a fully-fleshed out tune that should have been included in a commercial release long before now.
If you are thinking of checking out The Apples in Stereo for the first time, then don't start with Electronic Projects for Musicians (I suggest New Magnetic Wonder or Velocity of Sound). However, if you are a hardcore fan looking for another hit of Robert Schneider's electronic pop-rock goodness, then this is the album for you.