In The Aeroplane Over The Sea Review

artist: Neutral Milk Hotel date: 11/22/2012 category: compact discs
Neutral Milk Hotel: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Released: Feb 10, 1998
Genre: Alternative Pop/Rock, Lo-Fi, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Neo-Prog
Label: Merge, Domino
Number Of Tracks: 11
Neutral Milk Hotel's second album is another quixotic sonic parade.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 10
 Overall Impression: 9.7
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (6) 21 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea Reviewed by: unregistered, on april 03, 2006
9 of 9 people found this review helpful

Sound: I hated this album the first time I put it in. Absolutely despised it. Turned it off halfway through track 3, the title track of the album. I began cursing my friend who had reccomended it to me, and lamenting my misspending of $12. "I can sing better than that," was my biggest gripe, as Jeff Mangum's voice is reminscent of Rufus Wainwright abusing helium and ether. After several listens though, I began to realize that the stark contrast of his voice with the chaotic but beautiful melodies he creates was one of a kind and to this point has never really been recreated as well as it is here. // 10

Lyrics: Unreal, and by far my favorite component of the album. These lyrics are mind boggling, and everyone I know who has listened to the album agrees with me that they are some of the best ever written. Upon first listen they seem lighthearted and dreamy in many of the songs, but a much more sinister layer of meaning exists underneath. The origins of the songs and this album blew my mind. I loved this album before I knew anything about Neutral Milk Hotel, and I didn't bother to research them until long after I discovered it. Shortly before recording this album, Jeff Mangum read "The Diary Of Anne Frank" and began to have recurring nightmares that he was in a similar situation (hiding with his family from the Nazi forces to avoid being shipped off to concentration camps, for those who haven't read the book). These nightmares were the inspiration for almost all of the songs, and after learning this, alot of the tracks took on chilling new meanings. Anytime he mentions "she" or "her" he's referring to Anne Frank, so lines such as "I know they buried her body with others, her sister and mother and 500 families" from 'Oh Comely' and "The only girl I've ever loved was born with roses in her eyes, but then they buried her alive one year in 1945" from 'Holland, 1945' become very real and very frightening in a historical context. After learning of the inspiration, it was almost like listening to a completely new album. The few people who don't like this album usually cite this as their reason, the darkness of the lyrics when you really listen to them, but I feel that it is merely a testament to Mangum's talents that he can make so dark a subject matter so enjoyable to listen to. // 10

Overall Impression: I think (and I will probably get killed for this) this can lay a small but legitimate claim to the title of best album of all time. It's not really revolutionary in any sense, but its certainly the pinnacle of indie rock and more defined by tweaking the rules of music to its fancy then kicking down any doors. This is the only album ever that the stingy mofos over at Pitchfork have awarded a perfect 10, and I'm going to have to agree with them. It's beautifully crafted and haunting, and arranged to perfection. You can even hear him put down the guitar and walk away at the end of the last track, symbolic perhaps of the fact that Mangum may never return considering nobody has heard from Neutral Milk Hotel since this album was released 8 years ago. I personally can't blame him, because I can't imagine making an album this good being anything but completely draining, both physically and emotionally. Highly, highly reccomended, but keep an open mind as you will likely hate it upon first listen as well. Once you get used to his voice, you are in for a musical journey unlike anything you have ever experienced. // 10

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overall: 8.7
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea Reviewed by: *Truly Ninja*, on august 02, 2004
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: I always try to be objective when I write these UG album reviews. The problem with being honest about when the sound or the lyrics are worthy of 5 stars is that the records I review pale in comparison to the other records that have been reviewed here by people who say "the sounds is pretty good" and give it a 5. (This is especially infuriating when the album is by a by-the numbers n metal or pop-punk band.) // 6

Lyrics: In the Aeroplane over the sea is probably the best record I own. (Please remember I hate glowing reviews like this, but in this context it is absolutely necesary.) The sound is not innovative, but it can certainly keep your attention, and the lyrics are better than any band in the overrated emo movement. Jeff Magnum sings his twisted words as though he is completely sure of every word he is saying, and is therefore unafraid to sing out. Standout tracks on this record are "Holland 1945", "Communist Daughter", and "Ghost". // 10

Overall Impression: This album doesn't fit cleanly into any genre I've ever heard of, but despite that it is one of the most accessible albums I've ever heard. And you won't get bored of it, which is usually what happens with an instantly appealing album, because it seems to unfurl its mysteries piece by piece, so that every time you listen you pick up on two or three more subtleties that mae listening more pleasurable. I would reccomend this album to everybody because it is so great. // 10

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overall: 10
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea Reviewed by: UtBDan, on october 15, 2007
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 10

Lyrics: 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. // 10

Overall Impression: 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. // 10

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overall: 9.7
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea Reviewed by: SLD.Potato, on december 28, 2006
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Its sound, not anything horrendously earth-shattering and different, is still quirky and unique in it's own right. Trying to describe the music's like trying to explain the cover artwork. They themselves describe it as "Fuzz Folk" and that fits rather well. Acoustic guitar is the main instrument, there is also drums and some strange keyboarding or effects, and an occasional horn blast to keep it interesting. At the worst, sometimes they get a little overboard with the fuzz, but this is a minor flaw. "Wandering Geenie", "The Singing Saw" and "Shortwave Radio" are a few of the instruments mentioned in the insert. Expect the unexpected. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics are what make this album one of the greatest, ever. It's by far, for me, the best I have ever heard. (And I'm speaking from experience.) The unbelieveably strange subject matter, and the lead singer's amazing abillity to sound sure of himself and completely sincere through even the strangest phrases, in the beginning of "The King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. 2" he nasally shouts "I love you Jesus Christ!" in "Communist Daughter" he quietly describes that "Semen stains the mountain tops", and in "Two Headed Boy Pt. 2" he woefully sings "Two headed boy, she will feed you tomatoes and radio wires" and never, for a moment, will you doubt what he's telling you. Now that's amazing. // 10

Overall Impression: This album must be heard to be believed, it might take a while to sink in, for me it was instantly accessible. I had a friend borrow the album one day. A day later his brother went up to me and tell me how his brother was listening to it, and how he couldn't stand it and was driving him crazy. A month later I heard him singing "Communist Daughter" to himself. If you can't stand it the first listen, give it a chance. Let it all sink in. If it's his voice that's driving you away it'll get less annoying over time, trust me. // 10

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overall: 8.7
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea Reviewed by: TravisWongPG, on may 10, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The sound on the album is amazing. Mostly acousticaly, Jeff Mangum brings a raw and realistic sound to the guitar. The album is also accompanied by a number of different horns and keyboard attacks that add a distinct sound. I would even go so far as to say that if you judge the sound by itself, it is not even that good. However, the sound fits perfectly with the album and the rest of it's content. // 7

Lyrics: Lyricaly, the album is a masterpiece. This is what makes the album what it is. Mangums lyrics transcend conventional music, and he brings it with such believability that you will raelly question where he gets his content from. Some may seem a little strange, even sick, but at the end of the day, what he writes seems like it comes from a place very deep inside him. // 10

Overall Impression: The only problem with this album is that it takes some getting used to. For me personally, I loved it since the moment I played. However, most others don't like it right away. This is almost a good thing, because if there are people who judge something by the first listen, without giving it a second chance, then this album isnt for you anyway. If this were lost or stolen, I would buy two more just to make sure that if it was lost or stolen again, I could still listen to it. // 9

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overall: 9.3
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea Reviewed by: TheSPillow, on november 22, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album follows the rule of Gestaltism; The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you listen to a single track, you'll feel it's just a I-V-vi-IV chord pattern thrown together and disregard Jeff Mangum as a musician. But listening to this record the whole way through really shows its brilliance. The combination of unorthodox instruments (accordion, some Indian sh-t) make this album memorable. What's very interesting is the pure assonance; everything about this record just seems to fit together like pieces in a puzzle. Every song has a distinct feel, whether it be the urgency of "Two Headed-Boy" or the apathetic feeling of "Communist Daughter". My favorite track is without doubt "Two-Headed Boy Part 2". It is a very solid conclusion to a very solid album, referencing earlier tracks and even changing keys from G to G# making for an interesting shift you won't even notice. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics in this album are really part of it. In many albums, the music is the first priority and lyrics are just splattered onto the tracks. In this album, however, the lyrics are something to pay attention to, and are truly a part of the record. They also happen to be very eery and bizarre, referencing two-headed children, Spain, Anne Frank, communism, and ghosts. The album subtly references Anne Frank and her birth/death dates. Lyrics are a component of the music, and Jeff Mangum does an outstanding job of delivering them. // 10

Overall Impression: This is by many considered the quintessential indie album. The combination of unorthodox lyrics, historical references, emotional tracks, and variety make this album a must-listen. I've never been as emotionally stimulated by any other artist than Neutral Milk Hotel. By the end of the album, at "Two-Headed Boy Part 2", you'll be sobbing in your mind, because it's just that damn bereaving. Each track, while distinct, very much contributes to the record as a whole. I came to this album as a metalhead not hoping for much, but can say I was very surprised by it. // 9

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