In the Aeroplane Over the Sea review by Neutral Milk Hotel

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  • Released: Feb 10, 1998
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.9 (118 votes)
Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Sound — 10
About four months ago, my friend Bill (Incubus_SCIENCE here at UG) sent me one song he was listening to, by of all bands: Neutral Milk Hotel. I heard this one song, and the next day I went out and bought In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. You could overlook the lyrics entirely and be in love with the sound. It's probably hit or miss, but for me it was hit. It's very original indie. If I was forced to describe it, I'd say it sounds like a fairly talented acoustic singer-songwriter who doesn't want to do anything normal, from lyrics to instrumentation to song matter to the way the ideas get audiolly illustrated. Bagpipes, trumpets, acoustic guitars and what I can only guess are strange synth noises are bound on almost every track on this album. Basically, if you someone said "Neutral milk hotel is a sick band", and you didn't know what genre they were: the name sums it up. It's neutral milk hotel. They're out there.

Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are probably hit or miss as well, but they hit home for me. They go from strange tails about two headed boys to war stories in Poland to some odd subject matter about carrot-flowers. But even when they're strange, they seem to have deep meaning. From "Two headed boy part two", for example: "And in my dreams you're alive and you're crying / as your mouth moves in mine, soft and sweet / Rings of flowers round your eyes and / I'll love you for the rest of your life (when you're ready)". It's romantic, in a loving sense, and all of the lyrics have that same romantic qualtiy whether they're loving or not. They're compelling because of how they are told. The singer sounds like an Irish happy Jim Morrison and a Scottish-American sad Jack Johnson. I didn't hit the nail on the head there at all: he's deep voiced, not from around here, and he sticks out. His range may not be all that impressive, but his voice has got soul. And it's moving.

Overall Impression — 10
This is not for everyone. Heck, it's probably for very few. But if you find yourself tired of the standard formula writing, or the standard instrumentation, or the standard song ideas, Neutral milk hotel will blow your brains out and quick. It did with me. It went from being one catchy song Bill sent me, to one of my favorite albums of all time. I'd buy it again and again. And if someone stole it, I'd hunt them down and hurt them. Or share a drink with them because they're one of the few people I know, who shares the neutral milk hotel love.

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Dont take The Decemberists as a substitute for Magnums errant genius. They are overated. Good reviews, especially Truly Ninja's. THE best album ever made.
    Exo M7 about On Avery Island. Y'know, by that one band Neutral Milk Hotel
    The Decemberists should never be literally compared to Neutral Milk Hotel. Jeff Magnum gave the world something that will someday be seen as a religious artifact! Thats a hyperbole. What I mean to say, is that this album is amazing, and no other album will ever amount to it. Taken song by song, its beautiful. Taken together, well, it's giggling souls being led through clouds in the moonlight. We will love, and appreciate this album, shattered glass will fall on us, dig a hole to my kidney, and out of it, I'll still have 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" ringing like eerie bells on a night with out a cloud or stars, hair blown through the stream that hits the window pane. Know that what you love the most will betray you, but love it anyway - is the moral in this.
    I've been listening to this for ages now, it just keeps getting better. The worst thing about this album is that at times they go overboard with the fuzz, yet when you stack up the fuzz problem against the lyrics it's totally forgettable. Until Jeff Mangum comes out of hiding we may never hear anything so honest, brilliant, or even on par with this, again
    omg. best ****ing album ever. so genius. jeff magnum, wherever you are. do this again.
    definately a contender for the best album ever made, some of these songs are hauntingly brilliant and make your hair stand on end with every listen!
    this album is the best sound ever created by a human being. not only is it the best album it is also the best thing in exsistence
    the first time i listened to it, i did not have the tracklisting in front of me. i got to the last song (2 headed boy prt 2). i thought the whole album was amazing so far, and this song was no different. then i got to the end. "serious" music doesn't usually make me grin like an idiot, but i was ear-to-ear when he started up w/ the 2 headed boy motif again. that singular moment brought this album up to "immortal" in my book
    It's definitely grown and grown on me. Saw it posted on pitchfork for top albums of all time, and I must say it's a masterpiece. What a lyrical genius. The flow is so superb and I don't give a damn if he can sing great or not. Neither could bob Dylan. This cd has moved to top 5 all time for me. And you said pitchfork hasn't given out a 10. Not true, pavement's crooked rain got a perfect 10 and it's also one of a kind. Grew up to that cd.
    This is an amazing album. Like SketchyGalore, the return to the Two-Headed Boy motif at the end of the last song had me all smiles. I initially didn't like some of the tracks on the album, namely King of Carrot Flowers pt. 2, The Fool, and Untitled, but these grew on me after a few listens. It's one of the few albums I've found that I can listen to from start to finish without disliking a certain song and skipping it. It's also been in my CD player almost non-stop for well over a year now, when I bought the album, and I'm yet to tire of it. Also, I think Pitchfork initially gave this album an 8.7 upon release yet re-reviewed it in about 2005 upon its re-release to give it a perfect 10. Looks like they've removed the original review from the site, although I'm sure I saw it up as recent as a couple months ago.
    I honestly think that this is the greatest album ever created. It's incredibly hard to explain, but there's something about it that sheerly fantastic. I've thought about it and came to a decision that it's music at it's essence. There may not be many bells or whistles attached, but it's music at it's purest. Mangum may not be the best singer ever, but this somehow boosts my point. And the lyrics are definitely among the best ever written. But I don't really need to mention that.
    Markieg3 wrote: absuloustely amazing. any one have any recomandations on anything like this ?
    I'd recommend "The Crane Wife" by The Decemberists.
    My third favorite album of all time. If you like comprehensive masterful albums listen to Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell" and Modest Mouse's "The Lonesome Crowded West"