In the Aeroplane over the Sea
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Showing 1-10 of 16 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
OK... Most reviews I've seen of this CD are either wild exuberant praise (Magnet magazine even called this the #1 album of the 90's), or less than flattering (one I remember saying "howling tunelessly over an acoustic guitar"). I guess it's one of those things where you either get it or you don't, and there's no middle ground - which is strange because I'm totally in the middle on this CD. Sure, there's cool instrumentation (brass, organs, all the bells and whistles that other Elephant 6 bands like the Apples in Stereo and Olivia Tremor Control use) there are outstanding lyrics and Dylan-esque wordplay, and "Holland 1945" may have been the best song of 1998. But there are shortcomings too, for example some songs just aren't very good. There IS some "tuneless howling" here and there, "Oh Comely" drags on for what seems like forever, and the mix can be a bit too fuzzed out for pleasant listening. I guess my personal tastes lean more to the poppier indie bands, while Neutral Milk Hotel is much less Beatles/Beach Boys influenced. For you indie rock conneuiseurs, Mangum sounds quite a bit like the lead singer of Lotion (cool band). Anyway, the bottom line is to definately buy this album if you are a fan of Elephant 6 bands, punky folk music, or like picking out amazing lines from song lyrics - avoid if you are a pop purist or into traditional vocals/song structure.
Best Tracks:
"The King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1" - Nice lyrics on this one (naturally), the mix is a bit clearer on this one and Mangum's voice doesn't get too schizo. A nice opener, quite Dylan to these ears.
"The Aeroplane Over The Sea" - More of the same musically - acoustic led, but this song is a bit more direct lyrically.
"Holland 1945" - Unbelievable. Just read the lyrics, and imagine it set to a bouncy fuzz pop song. Everyone who has heard this song around me says it sounds Irish, I can see where they get that from, its very sing-alongy.
"Communist Daughter" - Less than 2 minutes of haunting acoustic folk. Good follow after the genius "Holland 1945".
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2004
The past reviews talked it up like it was the greatest album in the world, so of course I was disappointed when I heard it. But it's not bad. Lyrics: good, melodies: wonderful, vocals... eh, not for me. Hey, you can't please everybody, but I respect this band and this album, and I bought another copy for a friend who I think this album is perfect for. Just make sure you listen to the sound clips provided before buying it.
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on February 28, 2015
lots of people love this, I like parts of it. Interesting but not on my top 10 lists
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2005
I Would love to give this album a straight 5 stars. I cant. Its too good. and its not good enough. I love it. I hate it. I would be glad to give no stars, because of where it takes you. you cant judge this album from a musical standpoint... though the music is very good, and at times, sublime. You cant judge this album from a lyrical standpoint; they just arent accessable enough for most, and probably too convoluted to be courteous of even the deepest ponderer. how can you judge it? from where it puts you. No, I dont really think jeff magnum is some sort of genious... He has an interesting way of leaving his lyrics one step lower in concious refinment: he dosent decode his dreams for you like most other songwriters will as a polite service. they are verbally beautiful, and well written, but encoded. very astheticly pleasing at first, chilling once the meanings reveal themselves. what can I actually say about ths album? I will give a isten by listen description of what I thought of this album.

1st listen: good music, interesting sonic textures, fascinating singing style, entertaining imagrey. I love it.

2nd listen: a lot like the first, some images start to get clearer, notice the great instrumental track.

3rd listen: lyrics start to be understood, interesting concepts.

4th listen: many of the dark meanings, critical and cynical views of niaeve love, and life come through. lyrics quite clear now. some inspiring, some

After a while, the good music is overbalanced with disillusionment, and the clarity of the lyrics brings me down. Could I be like the 2 headed (faced) boy really running on a crude and predictible system of pulleys and weights? pursuing shallow goals, soon to be gone or left alone forever? nah... but thinking through the violet filter of this album can make it seem that way.

The lyrics really are dreamlike, and unless you want to write god a letter and ask him what crazy thoughts he put in this guy's head, theres no way to be positive of a meaning... but what I get from it is pretty much an accusition of shallow relationships, and a cynical view on the carpe diem attitude. there is a brief view of meaning in "ghost". but it is short lived, and possibly sarcastic, or hopeful... I cant figure this one out for sure. tack 10 implies hope in track 9. I dont know...

listen to it.

dont let it bring you down.

try to get it to bring you up.
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on January 27, 2015
Great album but quality is just not there.
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on October 14, 2014
Average at best
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2013
Is it because this group only existed for a short time? People seem to go a little extra gaga over short-lived music acts that have somewhat decent albums. My Bloody Valentine also springs to mind. People are insane about that group, and their most highly regarded album, "Loveless", is a boring, droning, experiment in sonic smogginess.

Neutral Milk Hotel, on the other hand, is good at what they do. And what they do is arthouse folk-punk. By just listening to the clips of these songs on Amazon, I got the impression that the songs were much more inspired and exciting then what my ears received upon listening to the whole album. The songs have a modicum of soul, which is commendable, but contain much less penchant for hooks than I led myself to believe.

Boiling it down, if you like Irish/Scottish drinking songs, you'll like Neutral Milk Hotel. A more unplugged version of, say, The Pogues, every song of theirs sounds like it headlined at Shane McGowan's wake.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2000
Mabye I was expecting too much from this album,I looked at the reviews and was expecting my head to explode from the sheer greatness that is Neutral Milk Hotel. I only got semi-stiff from this one. Don't get me wrong it's an ok album with some decent tunes but nothing jumps out and grabs me. My advice for this week is to buy anything by Radiohead and the Cap'n Jazz anthology, it rocks!
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2000
I don't get the hype over this album. I'll agree, there is some really great stuff on here. "Oh Comely" is very moving, for example. "The King of Carrot Flowers" has a great absurdist appeal, "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" is quite enjoyable, " " is pretty interesting, etc. etc. There isn't really a bad track here. Sure, Mangum has a fascinating voice and really knows how to use it (although some of the high notes in "Two-Headed Boy" make me wince a little); sure, these people are a far cry above most 90s pop; sure, the lyrics are fascinating; sure, the best songs are fantastic; sure, Neutral Milk Hotel can be seen as successors to the Incredible String Band. However, this is not the greatest music ever written! It's good, competent, interesting avant-garde songwriting, performed in such a way as to make the album a solid, if overlong, listening experience. But "sonic orgasm", as one reviewer said, this is not.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2004
ok, i've known this record for a few years now. i think of it as a single piece of music, not a collection of songs. certainly it is strung together like a suite, and the lyrics are full of repeating themes (like spines) and words (like the very odd configuration "could need"). i find the lyrics evocative and sometimes nightmarishly creepy (e.g., "holy rattlesnakes that fell all round your feet," or using "semen stains the mountaintops", which is doubly creepy because it's the only place on the album where a phrase is repeated, refrain-like). there are few artists who can effectively turn word salads into horror shows--syd barrett, don van vliet, occasionally beck (though beck's mostly a humorist). all in all, i appreciate what is clearly a very personal work of art for jeff mangum. however, in purely musical terms, i find the songwriting singularly banal. there's not a single melodic figure on this record that smacks you upside your head; and the chord progressions are obvious and endlessly repeated. the relative crispness of construction on The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1 disappears at the arrival of Pt. 2, never to be recovered. i find myself putting this record in every so often just to play one or two tracks; the whole does not command my interest. i certainly cannot fathom the rabid devotion it commands in others.
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