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NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL


RECORD LABEL
Merge


 NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL: IN THE AEROPLANE OVER THE SEA
Nov 10, 2000
By Colin Helms

Of all the bands that make up the richly lo-fi pop music collective known as Elephant 6 (Apples In Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control, et. al.), Jeff Mangum's Neutral Milk Hotel may be its most consistently surprising talent, as well as its most ambitious. With In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. NMH's second full-length, Mangum and his three full-time cohorts have created a gloriously surreal universe of sad, awkward emotions, fanciful characters and equally colorful instrumentation. Although the band works within a dimestore production budget, it still manages to take a grab bag of instruments trumpets, trombones, organs. woodwinds, acoustic guitars and a solid foundation of melodic, textural and structural ideas taken from Yellow Submarine to Third/Sister Lovers to Trout Mask Replica, and turns them into beautifully idiosyncratic pieces of finely-detailed pop. With his strained, over-the-top vocal delivery, furious guitar strumming and curious wordplay ("the marriage of a dead dog sing and a synthetic flying machine"), Mangum comes off like some precocious child lost in his own world of whimsical poetry and aching emotion, especially on the strident "Two-Headed Boy" and the quasi-spiritual "The King Of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three." Also check out the nervous power-fuzz of "Holland, 1945," which filters Mangum's sweet, boy-ish vision through a near psychedelic wall-of-guitar and trumpets with undeniably poignant melodicism. A true lo-fi pop landmark.


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