Review Summary: In the Aeroplane Over The Sea is not only a cult classic and an exceptional album, but it is also the best ending to a career anyone could ever ask for.
Headed by lead vocalist Jeff Mangum, Neutral Milk Hotel is, quite feasibly, responsible for the greatest indie album of all time. Despite their two prior releases – which were just simply good – Neutral Milk Hotel managed to fabricate an immensely extraordinary album. After the initial stun of its brilliance finally wears off, one may find it peculiar that they could create such a gem after little-to-no chronically extended progression. Thusly, one would inquire as to how Jeff Mangum and company made such leaps and bounds from their former efforts. The answer is not bewildering , nor is it complexly unfathomable. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea simply soaks itself in astronomical greatness because of its ethereal emotional derivation, intricate syntax; intangible, atypical songwriting, and beautiful, abstract musical soundscapes.
Although they are constantly praised for their aforementioned style of instrumentation, Neutral Milk Hotel incorporates folk elements in their musical blend, which traditionally implements abstract songwriting mechanisms that don’t tangibly scrape the unambiguous lines drawn by folk. If one were smart enough to behold, analyze and comprehend In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
, they would come to the realization that it isn’t splendid via great materials, but because it has such an elaborate construction.
As a cohesive piece of music, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
can’t really be depicted through individual song descriptions, but rather as a summarization of the album as a whole. From the first track “King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1” which obviously exhibits folk influences, the music evolves from having strong, gentle folk tendencies until it reaches aggregate apex into which it finally becomes (relatively) violent, passionate rock on “Holland, 1945.” It subsequently dies down, but in reverse order from its instrumental progression as seen from track #1 through track #6.
So while the music itself sees a rising action, a climax, and a falling action (much like a play) Jeff Mangum reaches into the depths of his soul, and so smoothly exerts fathoms of emotion into his singing as to create placid, beautiful crooning that touches a level Mangum had previously unable to achieve. Not only is it easy to see how much emotion and passion he displays when he sings,
“When you were young you were the king of carrot flowers, and how you built a tower tumbling through the trees, in holy rattlesnakes that feel all around your feet, and your mom would stick a fork right into daddy’s shoulder, and dad would throw the garbage all over the floor, as we would lay and learn what each other’s bodies were for, and this is the room, one afternoon I knew I could love you, and from above you how I sank into your soul, into that secret place where no one dares to go, and your mom would drink until she was no longer speaking, and dad would dream all of the different ways to die, each one a little more than he could dare to try,
But it is also painless to see how good
the songwriting is, and what subjects it touches on. However, the more burdensome task may be to recognize the key element. The above-listed lyrics are from the song “King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1” and there is not a single period in that entire quote. That is because the entire album is, essentially, one
sentence; a stream of thought, if you will. Much like some confangled 60-page essay/book I had to write, this album contains no periods, per se. As you will notice, there may be lines that seem to be sentences, that are always followed with an expansion of the thought, or an ‘and.’ This once again, exhibits just how intricate this album is.
This album is beautiful, complex, and deeply rooted in emotion and passion. To be honest, it’s really a crime if you don’t have it, lest haven’t even heard it. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
not only changed the way I think about music, but the way I think about not only my own, but other people’s feelings, and if that doesn’t merit classic status, I don’t know what does.