This has been a significant year for rock acts attempting follow-ups to their best records. Marah, Spoon, Lambchop, The Flaming Lips, and a handful of others beat the challenge, venturing into new areas while risking ground they'd already seized. Denver basement-pop band The Apples In Stereo is one of the few to muff its chance, though the group's breakthrough was small to begin with, and the failure equally minor. The group's 2000 album The Discovery Of A World Inside The Moone found the long-obscured line between homemade psychedelia and the disco symphonies of Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra, and the result was loud, hooky, and eminently groovy. The Apples' new disc, Velocity Of Sound, shows less scopeit's short and raw, a step toward the band's earliest singles rather than its more carefully crafted recent work. As a hard punch of melodic garage rock, Velocity works just fine; it's certainly as serviceable as just about anything by The Vines. "Please" sets the tone with a driving, fuzzed-up arrangement, designed to muss up the listener for two and a half minutes, then duck out with a smack on the cheek. Most every other song on Velocity is similarly blunt and amusing, with a few ("Do You Understand," "I Want," "Mystery," "She's Telling Lies") approaching excellence. But prior to Inside The Moone, The Apples In Stereo had always been an entertaining-if-negligible band, noteworthy mainly for bandleader Robert Schneider's association with the nebulous Elephant 6 collective. Velocity Of Sound maintains the higher level of songwriting present on its predecessor, but the intentionally slapdash nature of the recording, while making a gut-level impact, doesn't leave behind any gold-standard tracks. In experimenting with immediacy, The Apples In Stereo is losing its bid for timelessness.