4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a beautiful dream
Jeff Mangum is the King of Carrot Flowers. Or at least, the king of his own brand of innocently psychedelic dream-rock. The second full-length album from the endearingly weird Neutral Milk Hotel is not as lo-fi as "From Avery Island," but its beauty and dreaminess are still untouched.
Steady guitar strums start off "The King of Carrot Flowers Part 1," before...
Published on July 25 2004 by E. A Solinas
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 stars - left-field ALMOST classic from Elephant 6ers
OK... Most reviews I've seen of this CD are either wild exuberant praise (Magnet magazine even called this the #1 album of the 90's), or less than flattering (one I remember saying "howling tunelessly over an acoustic guitar"). I guess it's one of those things where you either get it or you don't, and there's no middle ground - which is strange because I'm...
Published on Jun 25 2004 by Perry M. Koons
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a beautiful dream,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)Jeff Mangum is the King of Carrot Flowers. Or at least, the king of his own brand of innocently psychedelic dream-rock. The second full-length album from the endearingly weird Neutral Milk Hotel is not as lo-fi as "From Avery Island," but its beauty and dreaminess are still untouched.
Steady guitar strums start off "The King of Carrot Flowers Part 1," before blossoming into the eerie, spirituality-themed "King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3." Following it up the somehow inspiring "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea," the grim trumpeting of "The Fool," and the rousing folky-carnival bombast of "Holland, 1945."
Crickets, screams and a gentle guitar melody start "Communist Daughter," followed by the wailing "Oh Comely," magnificently fuzzy "Ghost," and the eerie tenth track, which doesn't have a title -- a catchy, indescribable mix of fuzz guitar and funhouse melodies. The album ends on a strong note with "Two Headed Boy Part 2," with its haunted-house opener woven out of horns, which melts away behind Mangum's final ballad.
Neutral Milk Hotel is one of those bands that will steal your heart, or send you howling from the room. There's no middle ground. It's an acid-tinged dream of spirituality, sex, chaos, rebirth and beauty, full of girls with roses in their eyes and ghosts flying over stormy cities.
The music tends to be of two types. On one hand, we have Mangum's laid-back folky ballads; they are sometimes laced with other instruments, but the core is his acoustic guitar and his off-kilter voice. And then there are the swirling panoramas of brass-band, fuzz guitar, accordians, white noise, organ and musical saw, among others. These bizarre melodies are entrancing, almost hypnotic, and the catchier ones sound like the soundtrack of a carnival.
Mangum's voice is a weird one. It isn't very good, and he can't hold the notes (his wail of "I loooove you Jeeesusss Chrrriiiisst" is outrageously funny). But it meshes into the music as if his vocals were tailor-made for it. And the lyrics are full of weird things that somehow strike a chord in the listener, as if Mangum has tapped into your strangest dreams, ranging from the childlike wonder of "King of Carrot Flowers Parts 2 & 3" to the wistful: "Now she's a little boy in Spain/Playing pianos filled with flames/On empty rings around the sun/All sing to say my dream has come..."
Full of psychedelic brass bands and folky songs about children with wings, Neutral Milk Hotel's second album is a rare, magnificent album without a single unworthy song. Beautiful, strange and wondrous.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazingly haunting, hauntingly amazing,
By A Customer
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)i can't say enough good things about this album. the main thing i can say is that if you don't own it, buy it. this is an album that will change your life. i'm blown away by the fact that people still listen to fake music like britney spears, or meaningless punk like sum41, when this kind of music is being produced. this is, simply, magic.
the king of carrot flowers pt 1- the song that got me hooked on NMH. the song reminds me of a fantasy land; it 's about an escape from reality, something we all need. the lyrics are heartbreaking and beautiful, as is the guitar.
the king of carrot flowers pts 2 and 3- starts about with jeff crooning about jesus, and you can't be sure if he's serious or not... then the song breaks into hard, beautiful rock and fuzz guitar. uplifting, breaktaking, moving.
the aeroplane over the sea- a song about a wonderful relationship. the lyrics are true and don't try to gloss over the harder aspects of life. great acoustic guitar.
two headed boy- this song is, in a word, amazing. jeff magnum's voice soaring over the beautiful lyrics just takes me away to another place. this is how life is. this song is incredible. worth the entire price of the album alone.
the fool- perfect followup to two headed boy. instrumental, wonderful horns and drums.
holland 1945- i love this song! the lyrics are beautiful, telling a story of a girl in the holocaust. they are accented with heavy fuzz guitar and drums. this song is so upbeat, guarranteed to lift your mood. heartbreaking lyrics, but disguised by the music.
communist daughter- simply breaks my heart.
oh comely- seems to tell the heartbreaking story of a relationship in the holocaust. some of the most beautiful lyrics i've ever heard. in this song, sex is the most wonderful act on earth ("soft silly music is meaningful magical/the movements were beautiful/all in your ovaries)>. this song ends with the most moving line i've ever heard.
ghost- like holland 1945, very uplifting, with fuzz guitar, horns, drums, and guitar. wonderful singalong. makes me happy!
untitled (#10)- if you like bagpipes, this is for you. an automatic mood lifter.
two headed boy pt 2- this song has some of the most beautiful lyrics i've ever heard. they hit home, hard. beautiful, haunting, moving... breaks my heart.
get. this. album. change your life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars neutral milk hotel - in the aeroplane over the sea - pitchfork,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)So, then, seven years later Domino reissues In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and the arguments can begin anew. I've talked about this album with a lot of people, including Pitchfork readers and music writers, and while it is loved in the indie world like few others, a small but still significant number despise it. Aeroplane doesn't have the near-consensus of top-shelf 90s rock artifacts like, say, Loveless, OK Computer, or Slanted and Enchanted. These records are varied, of course, different in many ways. But in one key respect Aeroplane stands apart: This album is not cool.
Shortly after the release of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Puncture magazine had a cover story on Neutral Milk Hotel. In it Mangum told of the influence on the record of Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl. He explained that shortly after releasing On Avery Island he read the book for the first time, and found himself completely overwhelmed with sadness and grief. Back in 1998 this admission made my jaw drop. What the hell? A guy in a rock band saying he was emotionally devastated by a book everyone else in America read for a middle-school assignment? I felt embarrassed for him at first, but then, the more I thought about it and the more I heard the record, I was awed. Mangum's honesty on this point, translated directly to his music, turned out to be a source of great power.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is a personal album but not in the way you expect. It's not biography. It's a record of images, associations, and threads; no single word describes it so well as the beautiful and overused "kaleidoscope." It has the cracked logic of a dream, beginning with "King of Carrot Flowers Part 1". The easiest song on the record to like on first listen, it quietly introduces the listener to the to the album's world, Mangum singing in a muted voice closer to where he left off with the more restrained On Avery Island (through most of Aeroplane he sounds like he's running out of time and struggling to get everything said). The first four words are so important: "When you were young..." Like every perceptive artist trafficking in memory, Mangum knows dark surrealism to be the language of childhood. At a certain age the leap from kitchen utensils jammed into dad's shoulder to feet encircled by holy rattlesnakes is nothing. A cock of the head; a squint, maybe.
Inside this dream it all begins in the body. Moments of trauma, joy, shame-- here they're all experienced first as physical sensation. A flash of awkward intimacy is recalled as "now how I remember you/ how I would push my fingers through your mouth/ to make those muscles move." Sometimes I hear this line and chuckle. I think of Steve Martin in The Jerk, licking Bernadette Peters' entire face as a sign of affection. Mangum here reflects the age when biological drives outpace the knowledge of what to do with them, a time you're seeing sex in everything ("semen stains the mountaintops") or that sex can be awkward and unintentionally painful ("fingers in the notches of your spine" is not what one usually hopes for in the dark). Obsessed as it is with the textures of the flesh and the physical self as an emotional antenna, listening to Aeroplane sometimes seems to involve more than just your ears.
Then there's the record's disorienting relationship to time. The instrumentation seems plucked randomly from different years in the 20th century: singing saws, Salvation Army horn arrangements, banjo, accordion, pipes. Lyrical references to technology are hard to fix. Anne Frank's lifespan from 1929 to 1945 is perhaps the record's historical center, but the perspective jumps back and forth over centuries, with images and figures sucked from their own age and squirted out somewhere else. When "The King of Carrot Flowers Part 3" mentions "a synthetic flying machine" our minds leap to something like Leonardo da Vinci's 15th Century drawings of his helicopter prototype. The image in "Two-Headed Boy" of a mutant child trapped in a jar of formaldehyde is pulled from Dr. Moreau's industrial age island. The radio play powered by pre-electric pulleys and weights, the nuclear holocaust in the title track. What's it all about? Mangum offers an explanation for these jarring leaps in a line about Anne Frank in "Oh Comely," where he sings, "I know they buried her body with others/ her sister and mother and 500 families/ and will she remember me 50 years later/ I wished I could save her in some sort of time machine." If you can move through time, see, nothing ever really dies.
Seven years it's been, and whether Mangum has had personal trouble or somehow lost his way with music, it's not unreasonable to think that we've heard the last from Neutral Milk Hotel. I hope he does, but he may never pick up the guitar he set down after "Two-Headed Boy Part Two." Even so, we have this album and another very good one, and that to me is serious riches. Amazing to think how it started, how at the core of it all was guts. I keep thinking of "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding," and one of Dylan's truest lines: "If my thought-dreams could be seen/ They'd probably put my head in a guillotine." Aeroplane is what happens when you have that knowledge and still take the risk.
-Mark Richardson, September 27, 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece!,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)This is easily one of the best albums of all time. A masterpiece! Nothing more to say.
5.0 out of 5 stars O My....,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)This is a indescribale Masterpiece, Best ive ever heard from the Indie Scene and this year, other than Sufjan Stevens its in a league of its own for 2005, arcade fire is amazing too and wolf parade BUT GET THIS ONE FIRST!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to describe,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)This is a cd that no one should live without...no matter what music you listen to you will MOST LIKELY love it. i am a hardcore punk, deathmetal and ska fan yet this cd is my love..
TWO HEADED BOY is a greeaaaaaat song rules all..thank you and goodnight
5.0 out of 5 stars Statement of.........,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Album Ever,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)This is my favorite album of all time. Better that Chiastic Slide, better than the Mollusk. This is it. I bought it on a whim having only heard the Amazon clips. I was hooked. This is the album that I put on less then an hour after my first and only girlfriend broke up with me less then two hours ago in my apartment. This is one of the few things in life that actually makes it worth living. Thank you Jeff.
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 stars - left-field ALMOST classic from Elephant 6ers,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)OK... Most reviews I've seen of this CD are either wild exuberant praise (Magnet magazine even called this the #1 album of the 90's), or less than flattering (one I remember saying "howling tunelessly over an acoustic guitar"). I guess it's one of those things where you either get it or you don't, and there's no middle ground - which is strange because I'm totally in the middle on this CD. Sure, there's cool instrumentation (brass, organs, all the bells and whistles that other Elephant 6 bands like the Apples in Stereo and Olivia Tremor Control use) there are outstanding lyrics and Dylan-esque wordplay, and "Holland 1945" may have been the best song of 1998. But there are shortcomings too, for example some songs just aren't very good. There IS some "tuneless howling" here and there, "Oh Comely" drags on for what seems like forever, and the mix can be a bit too fuzzed out for pleasant listening. I guess my personal tastes lean more to the poppier indie bands, while Neutral Milk Hotel is much less Beatles/Beach Boys influenced. For you indie rock conneuiseurs, Mangum sounds quite a bit like the lead singer of Lotion (cool band). Anyway, the bottom line is to definately buy this album if you are a fan of Elephant 6 bands, punky folk music, or like picking out amazing lines from song lyrics - avoid if you are a pop purist or into traditional vocals/song structure.
"Communist Daughter" - Less than 2 minutes of haunting acoustic folk. Good follow after the genius "Holland 1945".
5.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre and Wonderful,
This review is from: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (Audio CD)I bought this cd on sort of on a whim. I hadn't heard any songs or even any samples off of it. I had just read good things about it, and liked what people had to say about their music. So, while searching through some cds at a record shop, I decided to pick up NMH and give it a spin. ITAPOTS is just a flat out fantastic cd. The music is dominated by acoustic foundations that are twinged with american folk and celtic influences. Trumpets, trombones, and accordions are incorporated skillfully, and, in small doses, extremely loud, fuzzy, pure rock-n-roll electric guitar hit you out of nowhere. Jeff Magnum's vocals are very hard to come by in today's music industry: his voice is full-bodied and well-tuned. There's no convoluded whispering, shouting, or screaming on this cd. The lyrics are beatiful and, frankly, immensely weird. In case you haven't gotten my point yet, BUY THE DAMN CD. You'll be addicted.
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In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel (Audio CD - 2005)