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Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

  by Emma Haigh

published: 23 / 7 / 2005

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Label: Domino Records
Format: CD


Timely re-release for Neutral Milk Hotel's 1998 album, 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea', which has been an influence on the likes of Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand and Caribou

Neutral Milk Hotel's 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' is one of those records that you listen to the first time and the world momentarily comes together, a brilliant kaleidoscope of sound and imagery. Being re-released by Domino, its enormous impact suddenly becomes clear: the other-worldly storyboards of Arcade Fire, the brash energy and sophistication of Franz Ferdinand, the almost lute-y raw mystique of Caribou. All seem to have slept in the Neutral Milk Hotel's cupboards and played in their stairwell. Listening to the album again, images parade through the lighthouse of your third eye. Stylistically much darker than much of their other albums, it mixes a literal universe of instrumentation: zanzithiphones, trumpets, accordions and the fuzzing hum of short-wave radio amass in the orchestra pit while Jeff Magnum's weaving lyrics dart headily. The murky folkiness of 'King of Carrots 2&3' begins with impeccably dainty banjo with Magnum's peculiar voice rippling with increasing kinetic fire before a delectable froth of guitar takes hold overhead. Conversely, 'Holland, 1945' provides eerily overt pop overtones – rushed, deliberate, tinny melody backed by dismantled assembly of horns – to a song essentially about the death and reincarnation of Anne Frank in the minds of those who read her diary; while the lyrical omniscience of 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' forms an unsettling triage for someone ready for death ("When we meet on a cloud, I'll be laughing out loud"), and gets washed away by the rolling pinwheel of collapsing saxophone and minimalist acoustic guitar. Doggerel orchestral arrangements aside, it's Magnum's voice itself that has always been a source of fascination for me in particular. He drifts in and out of key while invoking a sort of lyrical ecstasy. The grim sexuality that pours from 'Two-Headed Boy,' elastic wrath of 'Communist Daughter,' the tremulous confusion of 'The Fool.' He creates a dreamscape of words, injecting terrible beauty into suburban fairytales. It is pure poetry that lingers on well after the music has stopped.

Track Listing:-
1 King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1
2 King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 & 3
3 In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
4 Two-Headed Boy
5 Fool
6 Holland, 1945
7 Communist Daughter
8 Oh Comely
9 Ghost
10 [untitled]
11 Two-Headed Boy Pt. 2

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