98 of 107 people found the following review helpful
What a beautiful dream,
This review is from: In the Aeroplane over the Sea (Audio CD)Jeff Mangum is the King of Carrot Flowers. Or at least, the king of his own brand of innocently psychedelic dream-rock. The second full-length album from the endearingly weird Neutral Milk Hotel is not as lo-fi as "From Avery Island," but its beauty and dreaminess are still untouched.
Steady guitar strums start off "The King of Carrot Flowers Part 1," before blossoming into the eerie, spirituality-themed "King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3." Following it up the somehow inspiring "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea," the grim trumpeting of "The Fool," and the rousing folky-carnival bombast of "Holland, 1945."
Crickets, screams and a gentle guitar melody start "Communist Daughter," followed by the wailing "Oh Comely," magnificently fuzzy "Ghost," and the eerie tenth track, which doesn't have a title -- a catchy, indescribable mix of fuzz guitar and funhouse melodies. The album ends on a strong note with "Two Headed Boy Part 2," with its haunted-house opener woven out of horns, which melts away behind Mangum's final ballad.
Neutral Milk Hotel is one of those bands that will steal your heart, or send you howling from the room. There's no middle ground. It's an acid-tinged dream of spirituality, sex, chaos, rebirth and beauty, full of girls with roses in their eyes and ghosts flying over stormy cities.
The music tends to be of two types. On one hand, we have Mangum's laid-back folky ballads; they are sometimes laced with other instruments, but the core is his acoustic guitar and his off-kilter voice. And then there are the swirling panoramas of brass-band, fuzz guitar, accordians, white noise, organ and musical saw, among others. These bizarre melodies are entrancing, almost hypnotic, and the catchier ones sound like the soundtrack of a carnival.
Mangum's voice is a weird one. It isn't very good, and he can't hold the notes (his wail of "I loooove you Jeeesusss Chrrriiiisst" is outrageously funny). But it meshes into the music as if his vocals were tailor-made for it. And the lyrics are full of weird things that somehow strike a chord in the listener, as if Mangum has tapped into your strangest dreams, ranging from the childlike wonder of "King of Carrot Flowers Parts 2 & 3" to the wistful: "Now she's a little boy in Spain/Playing pianos filled with flames/On empty rings around the sun/All sing to say my dream has come..."
Full of psychedelic brass bands and folky songs about children with wings, Neutral Milk Hotel's second album is a rare, magnificent album without a single unworthy song. Beautiful, strange and wondrous.
Tracked by 1 customer
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 1, 2009 9:33:53 AM PST
Lee Parker says:
What an amazing review! You totally have him down to a T. :)
I really like the imagery in Mangum's music, and it IS rare for me to find a song I'm not into, but I don't care for that Jesus Christ song because of the wailing and yet I LOVE Glue.
Go figure. :)
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 5, 2009 8:04:01 PM PST
Barney L. Cornett says:
Posted on May 3, 2009 6:50:06 PM PDT
Thomas McNeil says:
Excellent review of what is indeed a wonderful album - and one that I've definitely found to be very divisive.
And Barney, what's with the quotation marks around "turd" and "brain cells"? I do not think you know what those little marks mean. You "must" not "be" very "Smart!" Hahahaha"ha"!
Posted on Jun 18, 2011 9:47:41 PM PDT
What I cannot understand from your otherwise excellent review is an absence of any reference to 'Two-Headed Boy', the strongest and most vivid of the songs on the disc.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›