Friday, February 13, 2009

Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

I guess it's time for me to put this blog to good use and actually post something, and, considering that In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of my newer albums, I might as well post my opinions on it.

Before I start, this album had to do a lot of work to be able to get into my good books. It's spammed to all hell on music sites (I'm especially looking at you, /mu/), is constantly called one of the greatest albums of the nineties (anything that is said to be as good as, say, OK Computer I approach with great cynicism) and falls under the 'Indie' category of music, a category of which I generally don't listen to. Long story short, there were a lot of reasons why I could have not liked this album. But, to summarise this review in two words, I didn't.

To be honest, I'm not sure what specifically attracts me to this album. I think it may be the quite excellent fusion of indie rock with folk/roots elements. Couple that with the vocals, which are a little jarring at first, but after time you see where they fit, and well thought out lyrics, it creates an aural experience that's quite unique and satisfying.

Aeroplane is a surprisingly accessible, yet multi-layered album. You can get enjoyment out of it from the first listen, but also begin to pick up on the other nuances on subsequent listens, meaning that you can get some excellent mileage out of this record. I've listened to this album about 7 times in the last 4 or so days and I'm still far from tired of it. Another reason Aeroplane is good for newcomers to the genre and experts alike is the album's track structure. Each track can stand on it's own, but also fits in very well to the album as a whole. The transition between tracks is incredibly fluid, something which clicks very well with me (for example, I love the Parabol/Parabola combo on Lateralus).

The only flaw that I've found with In the Aeroplane thus far is that track 8, Oh Comely, seems to drag on a little bit. That said, I haven't been noticing it as much in later listens so it might be one of those 'give it time and it will make more sense' things.

To sum up, don't let the pretentious wankery surrounding this album put you off, it's a great record that can be enjoyed by both indie fans and others. Highly recommended.

Highlights: King of Carrot Flowers, part 2 &3, Holland, 1945, Track 10 (untitled track)

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