Neutral Milk Hotel
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea



by Bsmith7 USER (1 Reviews)
October 12th, 2008 | 44 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of the best albums I have heard. It's got a sound of it's own, and more magical moments than you can shake a stick at.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is an album that has achieved almost legendary status among fans of indie, folk, or really, any kind of music. It is ever present in "Best of" lists and is widely regarded as a classic. There are very few albums that receive this kind of praise and even fewer that deserve it. This is one that deserves it.

The driving force behind Neutral Milk Motel is Jeff Mangum, who does all of the guitar work and vocals, and the vast majority of the songwriting. There are 8 other musicians, which include a drummer and a variety of horns, but make no mistake, this is Mangum's record.

The most unique aspect of Mangum's songwriting is his lyrics, which are often bizarre and nonsensical when taken at face value, but usually hold deeper messages when examined closely. The lyrics are often quite beautiful and at times can be quite touching. The majority of them deal with love and religion but the Holocaust also appears to be a major theme as Holland, 1945 is about Anne Frank and numerous other songs have lines that could be related to the Holocaust. They may take a while to get into but the lyrics are definitely one of the strongest points of the album.

Mangum's other major contribution is his vocals, which fall pretty much into the love/hate category. While he is really only an average singer, he has a couple little quirks that make him very enjoyable to listen to. Mangum often attempts to hit notes which are clearly out of his range, but instead of sounding awful, it gives Mangum a unique sound and adds more emotion to the songs. The vocals are probably the least accessible part of the album but they grow on you quickly when given time.

As far as the music goes, it's not technical in any sense but it does what it needs to do. Mangum's guitar playing is largely composed of standard folk chord progressions with very little variation. While this won't inspire you to break out the air guitar, it gels perfectly with Mangum's voice. The drummer is quite good when he shows up, and the horn section is good as well. Basically, everybody keeps it simple and does only what they need to do.

This is one of those rare albums where every song has something to offer. Two Headed Boy and Two Headed Boy Pt. 2, my personal favorites, feature Magnum and his guitar only, with no drums or horns. Both songs are beautiful in their own way and feature the best vocals on the album. The duo that opens the album, The King of Carrot Flowers and The King of Carrot Flowers Parts 2 and 3, are also amazing, the former being the "folkiest" song on the album and the latter being one of the more up-tempo songs. Another song of note is Holland, 1945, which is the most accessible song here and would likely be the best song to get if you are unsure about getting this album.

Despite all of the already mentioned positives of this album, what makes it a classic is the amount of magical moments this album has. There are some moments in music that are just flat out amazing and this album is full of them. The part at the end of Two Headed Boy Pt. 2 where Mangum sings "And when we break/We’ll wait for our miracle/God is a place where some holy spectacle lies/And when we break/We’ll wait for our miracle/God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life" has moved me almost to tears on numerous occasions. Moments like that are sprinkled throughout the album, and that is something that almost no other album can claim.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of my favorite albums of all time, and one of the few I believe deserve to be called a classic. It sounds like nothing else out there and it has more magical moments than just about anything else. Anybody who is a fan of Indie, Folk, or really any music at all, owes it to themselves to pick up this album.

user ratings (4313)
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    Med57 EMERITUS (4.5)

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

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

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

    dupuisj8 (5)
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  • CompostCompote (2.5)
    What happens when white people from Louisiana are allowed to make music: A cautionary tale...

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

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    Pardon the errors (I'm drunk) but this album has none....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

My first review. Let me know what you think! And please point out any mistakes in spelling or grammar.This Message Edited On 10.11.08

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

space your paragraphs

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 2.0

I am dead inside.

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 2.5

yeah so am I

don't make awkward arguments ben smith

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

Okay paragraphs are spaced and the bad line in the summary has been dropped. Thanks for the input.

October 12th 2008


I am going to shake my stick at this more soon.

October 12th 2008


Not a particularly bad review, but not a great one either. It's ok though, especially for a first. Album is rule.

October 12th 2008


Album is sweet

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

Im on track 6 right now... and it sounds pretty iffy

October 12th 2008



October 12th 2008


this grew off me some but the obvious awesome songs are still obviously awesome

Electric City
October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

album rules

October 12th 2008


Pretty good review for a first, man. I'd say this album is pretty much a classic in my eyes but there are a few minor things that bring it down a little. The title track is definitely one of the best songs ever recorded though.This Message Edited On 10.12.08

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 1.5

This album is definetly original and beautiful, but just not my cup of tea. I respect if fully, but you will not catch me listening to it often.

Great review. You really showed how much you loved this album, and why. I'm looking forward to your next one, bud.

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

The way this record begins is so awesome. I had heard the Everything Is EP first and had no idea what to expect with this, yet it hit me perfectly the first time. The songs are just such good songs. It's also cool cause I sing in his range perfectly so singing along is rad.

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 1.5

This album is definetly original and beautiful, but just not my cup of tea. I respect if fully, but you will not catch me listening to it often.

ummm, why'd u rate it a 1.5 then
Everyone raves about this so I'm gonna check it out soon prolly

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I don't know why no-one else has mentioned this yet, but you keep calling him Jeff Magnum. His last name is actually Mangum.

October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0


October 12th 2008



October 12th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

i wish i had a friend named jeff, then i could be like

jeff, man, gum?

then i'd ROFL and he'd be ilke dude why are you ROFL'ing

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