Neutral Milk Hotel: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea: Pitchfork Review

.: Belle & Sebastian: I'm a Cuckoo (Avalanches Mix) [from UK single]
.: Hella: The Mother Could Be You [from newly released The Devil Isn't Red LP]
.: Ruben Studdard: Sorry 2004 [single]

.: Hamlan; by Josef Kaplan

10.0: Essential
9.5-9.9: Spectacular
9.0-9.4: Amazing
8.5-8.9: Exceptional
8.0-8.4: Strong
7.5-7.9: Very good
7.0-7.4: Not brilliant, but nice enough
6.0-6.9: Has its moments, but isn't strong
5.0-5.9: Mediocre; not good, but not awful
4.0-4.9: Just below average; bad outweighs good by just a little bit
3.0-3.9: Definitely below average, but a few redeeming qualities
2.0-2.9: Heard worse, but still pretty bad
1.0-1.9: Awful; not a single pleasant track
0.0-0.9: Breaks new ground for terrible
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Neutral Milk Hotel
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
Rating: 8.7

As good indie pop acts grow fewer and further between, the driving force of the underground is growing decidedly noisy and abstract. But while fab acts like Gastr del Sol, Flying Saucer Attack and Tortoise continue to pulverize traditional song structure, there's one psych-rock band making music that's just as catchy as it is frightening.

From the opening "King of Carrot Flowers," In the Aeroplane Over the Sea shifts from acoustic folkiness to loud, fast punk rock with little or no warning. It features a noisy horn section and a dreamy singin' saw, all rolled into a package that does a credible job of blending Sgt. Pepper with early 90's lo-fi.

Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Magnum writes songs that read like bad dreams. He inherits a world of cannibalism, elastic sexuality and freaks of nature. We can only assume he likes it there.

-M. Christian McDermott