Neutral Milk Hotel
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
August 31st, 2011 | 387 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How strange it is to be anything at all...

The very first time I heard In the Aeroplane Over the Sea I thought it was utter garbage. I remember I managed to get as far as “King of Carrot Flowers Parts 2 & 3” before throwing my hands up in confusion and exclaiming, “Fuck it!” So back up on the shelf it went after only the three minutes it took before Jeff Mangum screeched “I LOVE YOU JESUS CHRIST” at the top of his lungs. A short sample size, sure, but at that time my mind had been made up. I didn't get the hype. To be honest, to hell with just the hype, I didn't get it. That would come five years later. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea soon became nothing more than a memory of a failed travel into lo-fi music, something to scoff at in the few instances it was brought up in conversation, until a midnight drive with a couple of friends when by chance “Holland, 1945” ended up blasting out my car speakers. I still can't tell if it was because I actually enjoyed the song or if it was just because of who played it, but something clicked since not only did I remember the song but the moment as well. It still took a year from that moment to fully come to appreciate In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, but soon enough I came to see it for what it really was – perfect.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the most human collection of songs I have ever come across. It embraces its shortcomings like no other and does it in such a characteristic fashion that all the things that first appeared as flaws; Mangum's strained and off key vocals, the fuzzy analog production, the somewhat odd fascination with the Holocaust's most famous teenage victim, and the seemingly endless well of sexual angst, all tie in to the human experience like no other. In under forty minutes Mangum masterfully cycles through love, faith, lust, anger and hate, in a way that is achingly relatable but uniquely his own. While other stylistic contemporaries like Elliott Smith and Conor Oberst were at their best when they narrated life like the poet laureates of the night before, on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea Jeff Mangum confronts his head on and trys to make something out of the madness of it all. The end result is a mess, but it is the most beautiful god damn mess I have ever heard.



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user ratings (3480)
Chart.
4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Glokta (5)
    Pardon the errors (I'm drunk) but this album has none....

    comissionerrr (5)
    One day we will die and out ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea. But for now we...

    madsmoon (5)
    Personal revelations on the greatest album ever....

    H. (5)
    She will live forever, all goes on and on and on...

  • Ben Thornburgh CONTRIBUTOR (5)
    Ben Thornburgh Presents! College Quizes of the Future....

    Misshaped (5)
    An eccentric but sincere indie rock classic....

    BrentV (5)
    A beautiful, near-unparalleled masterpiece that, with a blistering vigilance, operatically...

    crandynewman (2)
    Be prepared to be blessed with some of the best lyrics ever written, sung by the worst voi...

  • taxidermist (5)
    World War II, Adolf Hitler, the Holocaust, Anne Frank, Neutral Milk Hotel’s magnum opus,...

    dupuisj8 (5)
    A powerful and human exploration into sound...

    Daniel Merriweather (5)
    In the Aeroplane Over The Sea is not only a cult classic and an exceptional album, but it ...

    Adam Knott EMERITUS (5)
    And your mom would drink until she was no longer speaking, and dad would dream of all the ...

  • Keelan H. EMERITUS (5)
    Some Sort of Time Machine: The Role of Time in a Work of Art, From the View of In the Aero...

    Paul blart (4.5)
    A little too lo-fi for it's own good, but Mangum's baffling mind is completely unfolded he...

    Ben Smith (5)
    In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of the best albums I have heard. It's got a sound of ...

    Chris Jackson (2)
    ...

  • Med57 EMERITUS (4.5)
    ...

    (4.5)
    ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
cvlts
August 31st 2011


8985 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

totally saw this coming

Gyromania
August 31st 2011


16089 Comments


I love you.

G3N3R1C
August 31st 2011


1945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

aight

Hep Kat
August 31st 2011


15399 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great now im going to have to put this on

Digging: Burning Kitchen - Many Wonder About the Meaning of Life

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011


50960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mangum should change his name to Magnum


Digging: Friendzone - Collection 1

wabbit
August 31st 2011


7035 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you are the best kind of human being

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i knew this was coming

fuck yes

reading now

Digging: Mitski - bury me at makeout creek

G3N3R1C
August 31st 2011


1945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hey guys this is one of the greatest albums of all time did u kno?

ti0n
August 31st 2011


1591 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

HELL YES

Digging: The Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011


24098 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

awesome review

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the most human collection of songs I have ever come across. It embraces its shortcomings like no other and does it in such a characteristic fashion that all the things that first appeared as flaws


very well said. this is one of the things I love most about this album.

i too thought this was an overrated piece of shit for probably two years after hearing this (I think this story is a cliche by now but fuck it). Then a couple years ago when I was in Quito, Ecuador, alone and scared in a hostile, dangerous city, it clicked with me on such an immense level. I'd now put it somewhere in my favourite 10 or 15 albums.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2011


17231 Comments


@g3n3r1c: that's cool, but did you know beyonce had the greatest music video of all time?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2011


15082 Comments


GAyAF ahFOte

WeepingBanana
August 31st 2011


10217 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i'm seeing Jeff Mangum next week

gon' cream mah jeans

LegendofPittman
August 31st 2011


2958 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

^ Totes jealous

ohfoxxxycole
August 31st 2011


4353 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

favorite christian rock cd

Comatorium.
August 31st 2011


4195 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Seeing Jeff on October 27th. Gonna cream on the entire venue.

PorkchopExpress
August 31st 2011


389 Comments


Every single person I've ever made listen to this album, I tell them right up front "You won't see what the big deal is with this at first, but give it time", and I don't know anyone who hasn't grown to love it.

Drsmith4
August 31st 2011


1719 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

If only Jeff Mangum had his own Apples to Apples card...it could be combined with the Anne Frank trump to cause all sorts of shit.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2011


7427 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm really tempted to go to the Jeff Magnum curated ATP fest in December.


wabbit
August 31st 2011


7035 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think I'm the only person who loved this on the first listen...which is weird cause I normally take a lot longer to get albums than most people here seem to.



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