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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

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iTunes Review

Jeff Mangum's second album as Neutral Milk Hotel is a masterpiece. Inspired by a reading of the Ann Frank story, and with the help from the Elephant Six recording collective (Apples in Stereo and Olivia Tremor Control), In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is a personal meditation on the rich joys of life and the tragedy of death. Triumphantly martial brass arrangements, warbly musical saw, and sweet piano augment the rough buzz of Mangum's basic acoustic guitar strum, but it's his glorious, wailing voice that soars over all of it as the album progresses seamlessly from big rock songs ("Holland, 1945," "Ghost") and achingly earnest mid-tempo numbers ("King of Carrot Flowers Part 1") to a brass-led dirge ("The Fool") reminiscent of the jazz funeral that march through the streets of Mangum's native Louisiana. To hear this album once is to love it forever.

Customer Reviews

Believe the hype

I owned this album for 6 months without liking it. It sat in the glove compartment of my truck, collecting dust and reading road maps presumably. Maybe it was Jeff Mangum's voice, which upon first listen sounded like a cross between nails on a chalkboard and my roomate's garbled singing in the shower. Maybe it was the weather, early summer in the mountains of North Carolina; far too nice to be devoting time to music that seemed difficult. But as chance would have it, the weather changed and grew cold, gray. I had a long drive from town up to my house, and under that winter sky one day I put it in. Instant gratification. As I wound through curvy steep roads, I also wound through a myriad of emotions. This album, filled with wonderous intense music, had been playing coy in my glove compartment all along, and was now opening up to me. I can't describe the album any better than it already has been by others. It is what it is; passionate and purposeful, vague memories and moments of clarity, stories and confessions. It never loses focus, it never loses touch. And 5 years later, it still gets better each listen.

My Favorite Album of All Time

Let me just say this... this is the only album I've heard that has actually made me cry, weeping like a child because it is so radiantly gorgeous, awe-inspiring. His music is so starkly beautiful, so rich and gripping and involving.. it is one of the few albums I have which I would rather unplug the phone than have interrupted. This album is such a vulnerable, incredibly powerful and melodically brilliant it deserves the highest respect of anyone who truly loves music. I cannot imagine topping it or improving it in any way. Utterly fascinating.

Destroys. Moves. Pleases.

I don't know if words in the english language describe this masterpiece.


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 the remote...
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