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Review of In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (1998)

with one comment

Score – B+

Neutral Milk Hotel are weird. It’s like Jeff Magnum was trying to make an album combining stereotypes of old-timey instrumental music and new-age lo-fi pop-rock. Well, whether or not he was trying to do that, that’s what it sounds like. In The Aeroplane Over the Sea grew on me after a few listens; I didn’t like it much at all at first. This album is very interesting. I don’t quite know what to think of it. Right now, I’m thinking it’s a bit overrated (Pitchfork gave it a 10), but it seems like one of those albums that might contain a hidden genius that sneaks up on you.

The album starts with a couple of songs called “King of Carrot Flowers pt 1” and then “King of Carrot Flowers pts 2 & 3” (that’s one song). Jeff Magnum jumps straight into it on KoCF part 1 by singing a bunch of nonsense that certainly doesn’t mean much to anyone but himself. This style of unorganized inner-thought lyrics persists throughout the entire album. Also, this is just a side-note, but Magnum sings about semen way too often; the word “semen” appears in at least 2 songs – ridiculous. Magnum’s straining voice gets a little bit of additional grit thanks to the lo-fi recording process. I didn’t like the vocals much at first; in fact, the vocals were my main beef with the album. After my last few listens, I came to appreciate them a more. Magnum does sound like he’s forcing it at times, but there are a couple instances on In The Aeroplane Over the Sea where the vocals stand out. On “King of Carrot Flowers pts 2 & 3,” Magnum’s incessant belting out of “I love you Jesus Christ” is odd yet uncannily aesthetic. In the last bit of “Oh Comely” Magnum uses his voice as an extra horn for the ensemble. It sounds cool as hell.

The music itself is rather interesting. It combines old timey r&b with punk. It comes off as mostly a folk album though. The instrumental song “The Fool” stands out to me as by far the best song on the album. It’s a rare number with an amount of soul that you just don’t hear too often these days.

I can’t understand why so many people claim that this is the best album of the entire Elephant 6 collective discography. It doesn’t touch anything by Olivia Tremor Control, but it is good enough to be worth a listen.

Summarized:

  • In The Aeroplane Over the Sea is an extremely highly acclaimed indie album with an interesting sound.
  • It’s overrated, but still pretty good
  • The music is a lo-fi production combining elements of folk, punk, and genres so old I don’t know what to call them.
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Written by danielperry99

January 19, 2011 at 4:42 am

One Response

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    June 21, 2013 at 3:27 pm


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