Listening recently to the first song from the Apples in Stereo album Tone Soul Evolution, "Seems So," I got this crazy idea about the difference between "pop as style" practitioners like the Apples or Olivia Tremor Control (as Tom would put it, "Fake-Fake pop") and the originals they lean heavily on, e.g. the Beach Boys and Beatles.
"Seems So" seems a lot more innocent, a lot more sing-songy and dreamy, than many of the Beatles songs I've heard. From what I recall, their earlier (poppier?) songs have that quality in greater abundance, but they don't have the rush of pure sound that "Seems So" (or much of Tone Soul) has. In that respect the Apples seem to draw more from later period Beatles and Beach Boys, which is where the contrast comes from - those bands became more serious about the song lyrics as they became more sonically adventurous.
So the difference I latched on to, is that bands like the Elephant 6 ones under discussion (some others seem to go off in different directions - like Neutral Milk Hotel, for example) really do take the sounds of 60s pop as a style, and then run with it - making, or at least pointing toward, a newer kind of music that has its roots in that pop without simply replicating or simulating it.
This is hard to see on Tone Soul Evolution, which is maybe why I noticed it there better than before. The songs on the album are for the most part very catchy, but so far I can't tell if the lyrics matter much. They don't seem to. The vocals are tight in the mix, sometimes a little bit buried. More importantly, though, I don't get the impression that the songwriter(s?) really intensely wanted the songs to mean a lot. This is in sharp contrast to the later Beatles and Beach Boys songs.
So, great, you say. The Apples write songs that aren't supposed to mean much. Not the lyrics, perhaps, but the songs as wholes, certainly. As music made with a pop pallette.
I think this was harder for me to notice on the Apples' Her Wallpaper Reverie EP because the songs (proper songs - not the twirly staring- at-the-wallpaper bits) are really really good as pop songs, which obscures what else they're doing. But at the same time, those songs became more overtly psychedelic than the ones on Tone Soul - a sign that the Apples were working more with the sounds than simply with the songs.
Certainly I've said stuff like this before, like when talking about Olivia Tremor Control. In the context of Black Foliage it might seem different, though, because that album is far more relentlessly experimental - it can make the pop seem more like lapses, or make the concrete parts sound more like lapses, or de-emphasize the fact that they are using pop sonically, simply because they're using everything sonically.