Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Mike Mantin 08/08/2005

Rating: 5/5

Like Wilco's 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' or Slint's 'Spiderland', Neutral Milk Hotel's magnum opus was cruelly overlooked but is a classic album that no fan of American indie-rock can be without. It's now available on CD again, thanks to Franz's label, Domino. Now seven years old, it's still thrilling, and the haunting, acoustic 'Two Headed Boy' use Jeff Mangnum's piercing voice to make his distinctively creepy lyrics (“And in the dark we will take off our clothes/and they'll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine”) pack an even bigger punch. The gushing celebrity quotations on the back confirm how much of an impact NMH have had on today's American indie scene, and you can hear the spirit of 'In The Aeroplane…' on almost all of the scene's high flyers. The Decemberists specialise in historical, sweet folk songs seen here on 'Communist Daughter' and 'The King Of Carrot Flowers'; 'Ghost' and 'Holland, 1945' set the loud, orchestral epic template that The Arcade Fire are currently perfecting; and Jeff Magnum's distinctive vocal stylings are echoed in the tones of singers like Devendra Banhart and John Darnielle from The Mountian Goats. Magnum and co. seem to have disappeared recently, but it seems unlikely that they would better this alt.rock masterpiece.

(originally part of the This Month We Have Mostly Been Listening To... feature)