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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Neutral Milk Hotel

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Album Review

Perhaps best likened to a marching band on an acid trip, Neutral Milk Hotel's second album is another quixotic sonic parade; lo-fi yet lush, impenetrable yet wholly accessible, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is either the work of a genius or an utter crackpot, with the truth probably falling somewhere in between. Again teaming with producer Robert Schneider, Jeff Mangum invests the material here with new maturity and clarity; while the songs run continuously together, as they did on the previous On Avery Island, there is a much clearer sense of shifting dynamics from track to track, with a greater emphasis on structure and texture. Mangum's vocals are far more emotive as well; whether caught in the rush of spiritual epiphany ("The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two and Three") or in the grip of sexual anxiety ("Two-Headed Boy"), he sings with a new fervor, composed in equal measure of ecstasy and anguish. However, as his musical concepts continue to come into sharper focus, one hopes his stream-of-consciousness lyrical ideas soon begin to do the same; while Mangum spins his words with the rapid-fire intensity of a young Dylan, the songs are far too cryptic and abstract to fully sink in — In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is undoubtedly a major statement, but just what it's saying is anyone's guess.

Customer Reviews

Best album of all times.

I don't have enough words to explain how good this album is. I didn't like it at all at first, but after some listens, it instantly became my favourite. The mix of all the worlds bizarre instruments combined with Jeff Mangums vocal (which is out of this world), makes this the best of all time. It's impossible to point out a favourtite track on such a rock solid record. Listen, listen again, and experience salvation. Jeff Mangum is god.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

The self-described "fuzz-folk" project Neutral Milk Hotel was one of the primary outgrowths of the Elephant 6 Recording Company collective, a coterie of like-minded lo-fi indie groups — including the Apples in Stereo, the Olivia Tremor Control, and Secret Square — who shared musicians, ideas, and sensibilities. While ranging in sound and concept from solo acoustic work to full-band performances, Neutral Milk Hotel essentially remained the work of Jeff Mangum, a singer/songwriter from...
Full bio