In The Aeroplane Over The Sea [Vinyl]

By , October 30, 2010 5:07 am

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Named Best Album of the 1990s by Magnet Magazine, Aeroplane gives us Jeff Mangum’s powerful solo acoustic work, full horn-section marches, history, religion, & sex — everything you hoped for and more! Now available on high quality 180 gm vinyl! Includes coupon for MP3 download of the entire album.Just from the opening seconds of Neutral Milk Hotel’s second album, you know it’s going to be special: the acoustic guitar strum is catchy beyond belief, and Jeff Magnum’s intonation lends credibility

Rating: (out of 454 reviews)

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5 Responses to “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea [Vinyl]”

  1. Michael Alexander says:

    Another record, reviewed by Michael Alexander – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea [Vinyl]
    Let’s pretend, for a moment, that you’re listening to Aeroplane for the first time, having heard nothing at all from this alternately praised and despised album. The first thing to notice is the faintly catchy acoustic strumming of “King of Carrot Flowers, part 1”. In bursts a slightly nasal voice that was never intended to sing, an odd accompanying wind or brass instrument that strangely matches it, and nonsensical lyrics reminiscent of Syd Barrett but with more sex. Just when you’re getting used to this little piece of quirk, Part 2 begins, and a lo-fi electric guitar begins arpeggiating uncertainly. The voice is back, and this time it’s nigh-excruciating as singer Jeff Mangum belts out “IIILooooooovveYYOOOOOOOOOUUUUJEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESUSCHRIIIIIIISSSSTT” in a register far above his capacity. At this point, the listener either runs screaming, never to touch the album again, or (and this is the path you follow) s/he “gets the joke” and bursts into fits of laughter; Mangum sure has balls. Aeroplane gets mentally filed into the “Novelty” section.No sooner do you dismiss this act as a good joke than Neutral Milk Hotel shatters the conception by bursting into the dreadfully catchy and piledriving near-punk of Part 3. As a plethora of sounds and instruments clank and whirr along, the band reveals its ace in the hole, a brass band that brings even more of a mad, carnivalesque tenor to the song. Maybe this band can rock after all, you think, however weirdly. Could they possibly be _serious_?The final piece to the puzzle comes with the next two songs. The affecting (and affected) “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” is quite possibly the finest piece of music ever recorded involving a musical saw(three-part saw harmonies, no less!), and the surreal lyrics finally coalesce into a theme, as fine a musical take on “carpe diem” as I remember in rock. By the time Two-Headed Boy Part I rolls around, the songwriting’s become almost unbearably good, the singing’s become almost unbearably strained, and the instruments have just gone nuts. The sense of yearning is palpable, but something odd’s going on. Sure, there’s the acoustic guitar being played as violently as in any punk song, but is that the brass band shifting into a New Orleans funeral march? Indeed!The remainder of the album is a kaleidoscope of oddity, pain, love, young sex, Anne Frank, flowers, flames, spines, and death. Rather than being any one of the the things suggested in the previous paragraphs, Neutral Milk Hotel is ALL of them. Mangum is joking lightly and deadly serious, celebratory and mournful, mad and sane, sober and wild. Illustrating the contradiction are the songs that can make me cry even though I couldn’t understand the lyrics if my life depended on it. This album encompasses it all, and just when it all seems like it’s going to fly apart, the tortured conviction of Mangum’s voice and the utter catchiness of the music win out. _Aeroplane…” is a terrific album if you’re willing to accept it on its own terms, and I pity anyone who misses out on it; in all the flailing weirdness, it somehow becomes universal. PS: The voice becomes incredibly endearing after enough listens.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Another record, reviewed by – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea [Vinyl]
    I read a CMJ review of this album sometime last year; I vaguely remembered it, and stored the name in the back of my head. Then a few months later, I saw it listed in about a million top 10 lists for 1998. Then one day I bought it on a whim, having never heard it (something I never do). I guess luck was with me that day.Though it’s futile to describe the music on this record, I’ll try. It’s an insane mix of distorted bass, horns, saws, theremins, and other strange sounding instruments and a guy who’s got one of the most honest voices you’ll ever hear. The pace alternates between mostly acoustic ballads (something i usually despise) and caffinated garage rockers. Mind you it all sounds like it was recorded in 1935. It’s literally like nothing I’ve ever heard; and i’m mostly into punk, so this is something i never would have listened to given the description. but hell, good music is good music, and this is some of the best you’re likely to find.Now many people say lead singer/musical genius Jeff Magnum’s voice is “unlistenable.” It may not be polished, but how many singers out there take vocal lessons? If they did, everyone would sound like Boyz II Men. This man has a voice that makes it sound like he means what he is saying, and it may be an acquired taste, but by no means unlistenable.This disc is like a punch in the stomach (a good punch); you can feel what Jeff is saying. And that’s something that so few musicians are able to do. I own over 500 cds; I’ve heard every type of music imaginable; and this is right near the top of them all. Believe the hype, the good press, because this album is absolutely amazing.

  3. E. A Solinas says:

    Another record, reviewed by E. A Solinas – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea [Vinyl]
    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.

  4. Ray Radlein says:

    Another record, reviewed by Ray Radlein – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea [Vinyl]
    I had to buy a second copy of this CD.

    One day, as I was leaving work, my original copy of the CD broke open its jewel case and leapt forth in a daring and quixotic bid for freedom which was cut tragically short when it skidded to a stop, butter-side down, on the rough pavement of the parking lot.

    In retrospect, given the nature of this CD, I was not surprised that it had made the attempt; indeed, the only surprise is that it did not succeed, and rise up into the distance to sail the endless skies forever.

  5. Zach Ralston ( says:

    Another record, reviewed by Zach Ralston ( – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea [Vinyl]
    Relocating to Athens, Ga, the Elephant 6 member Neutral Milk Hotel (fronted by Louisiana prodigy Jeff Mangum) has found the perfect outlet for their powerful brand of fuzzbox power-folk. Following up their debut “On Avery Island,” “Aeroplane” is a masterpiece of songwriting, combining a host of bizarre instruments (including the saw) and distorted blasts of electric guitar with sugary-sweet pop melodies and transcendental lyrics that are so abstract they make Michael Stipe look coherent. Mangum’s charmingly off-key crooning matches the earnest soul-searching belted out by acoustic guitar in such numbers as “Two Headed Boy” and “Communist Daughter.” And for pure rock ecstasy, “Holland, 1945” may be the most exciting burst of sonic orgasma produced in years. It’s rare that a lyricist can emote such a range of feelings on a 35-minute record with the clarity and energy Mangum can. “Holland” is about Anne Frank, and lines like “And then they buried her alive / One evening 1945 / With just her sister at her side/ And only weeks before the guns / All came and rained on everyone” contrast sharply with the sunny melody of the guitar. Mangum’s unconventional views on romance and sex bleed into ambiguous gendering and dream-like love affairs. Consider the phrases “This is the room one afternoon I knew I would love you and from above you how I sank into your soul” and “Your dad would throw the garbage all across the floor as we would lay and learn what each other’s bodies were for.” Mangum hits on details that poingnantly underscore his overall message. He overcomes trite existentialism with life-affirming aphorisms buried in poetry such as “And one day we will die and our ashes will fly / From the aeroplane over the sea / But for now we are young, let us lay in the sun / And count every beautiful thing we can see.” Having the courage to rhyme with innocent boyishness makes his mature ironies all the more affecting. In “Two Headed Boy, Part 2,” Mangum settles on the prettiest chord resolution to voice the sadness of his desires: “In my dreams you’re alive and you’re crying.” And as the album ends on that song, NMH’s confident musicianship comes across like courageousness and sly humor all at once. If Phil Spector knew his wall of sound has now extended to grass-roots power-folk, he might want to come out of retirement to hear the surging production on this album. It’s as if no level of feedback is strong enough to muffle Mangum’s artistry.Neutral Milk Hotel’s sound is far from mainstream, so don’t judge their talent on their record sales. But based completely on emotional resonance, “Aeroplane” is the best album of the year and also the most original.If you dig the wild sounds of “Aeroplane,” definitely check out their first effort, the Jeff Mangum solo effort “On Avery Island,” and other Elephant 6 artists like The Apples In Stereo and Olivia Tremor Control. Although the bands are on different labels (NMH are on Merge), they all hail from the same town and split off into different projects (Apples frontman Robert Schneider takes on producing duties for NMH).

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