In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
|In the Aeroplane Over the Sea|
|Studio album by Neutral Milk Hotel|
|Released||February 10, 1998|
|Studio||Pet Sounds Studio, Denver, Colorado|
|Neutral Milk Hotel chronology|
|Singles from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea|
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the second and final studio album by the American indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel. It was released in the United States on February 10, 1998 on Merge Records and May 1998 on Blue Rose Records in the United Kingdom.
Jeff Mangum moved from Athens, Georgia to Denver, Colorado to prepare the bulk of the album's material with producer Robert Schneider, this time at Schneider's newly created Pet Sounds Studio at the home of Jim McIntyre.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is widely considered to be written about Anne Frank due to lyrics seemingly referring to her, such as lines referring to her birth and death dates. Though the group has never officially stated that the album is indeed about Frank, it is a popular theory among fans, and Jeff Mangum has mentioned the influence her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, has made on his craft and outright referred to "Holland, 1945" being about her while performing live.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea|
The album's cover was a collaboration between Mangum and R.E.M.'s staff designer, Chris Bilheimer. The general design reflects the taste of Jeff Mangum; Bryan Poole said that "Mangum was always into that old-timey, magic, semi-circus, turn-of-the-century, penny arcade kind of imagery." One particular piece Mangum showed to Bilheimer was an old European postcard with an image of people bathing at a resort, which was then cropped and altered. Bilheimer also designed a broadsheet-style lyrics sheet for the album, and inadvertently titled "Holland, 1945" in the process; Mangum wanted to use either "Holland" or "1945" for the song's title, and Bilheimer suggested he use both.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Pitchfork Media||8.7/10 (1998)
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
In a contemporary review of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, the College Music Journal called the album "a true lo-fi pop landmark" and cited "Holland, 1945" as a highlight. Pitchfork Media's M. Christian McDermott referred to Neutral Milk Hotel as a "one psych-rock band making music that's just as catchy as it is frightening" and said that the album "does a credible job of blending Sgt. Pepper with early 90's lo-fi." Ben Ratliff was more mixed in his review for Rolling Stone, writing: "Unfortunately, Mangum went straight for the advanced course in aura and texture, skipping basic training in form and selfediting. [...] He sings loudly, straining the limits of an affectless voice. [...] For those not completely sold on its folk charm, Aeroplane is thin-blooded, woolgathering stuff." Spin's Erik Himmelsbach referred to the album as "cut-and-paste pop songs [that] are darkly comic and wonderfully wide-eyed" while noting tracks such as "The King of Carrot Flowers" as a "self-indulgent, three-part musical suite".
Jason Ankeny of AllMusic wrote, "lo-fi yet lush, impenetrable yet wholly accessible, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is either the work of a genius or an utter crackpot, with the truth probably falling somewhere in between." Ankeny also praised Mangum's vocals as "far more emotive" than they were on On Avery Island while noting the vagueness of the album's lyrics, concluding that while "Mangum spins his words with the rapid-fire intensity of a young Dylan, the songs are far too cryptic and abstract to fully sink in — In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is undoubtedly a major statement, but just what it's saying is anyone's guess." Robert Christgau of The Village Voice rated the album a "neither", and while he later wrote that the album "convinced alt diehards that maturity can be just as weird as growing up", he also called it "a funereal jape that gets my goat."
The third track of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. This sample contains a portion of the song's second verse. Evident are the driving acoustic guitar progressions and the use of a multitracked singing saw.
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Subsequent reviews from Pitchfork Media and Rolling Stone were more positive; the latter gave the album four of five stars in its 2004 The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition, with reviewer Roni Sarig writing, "Mangum had put together something resembling an actual band, resulting in a far richer and more organic sound [than On Avery Island]. What's more, the songwriting had blossomed far beyond the bounds of Elephant 6 (or indie rock as a whole), with Mangum etching out timeless transcendentalist pop steeped in a century of American music (from funeral marches to driving punk)." Sarig also commended the album for its "passionate acoustic-guitar strums, irresistible melodies, and lyrics that rarely feel obtuse even when they're nonsensical." Pitchfork, in a 2005 review written by Mark Richardson, gave the album a perfect score. Richardson praised the album's lyrical directness and "kaleidoscopic" musical style. PopMatters named a reissue of the album one of the best of 2005, and wrote, "Aeroplane is a manifesto for a different way of making pop. To hear 'Two-Headed Boy' in 2005 is to realize that Mangum's art is simply superb songwriting. But most of the record adds an ingenious mixture of accordion, brass, organ, fuzzed-out guitars, tape, and other glorious miscellanea."  In 2014, Spin regarded the album as "a classic" and the band's "psych-folk opus."
Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler named Aeroplane as a chief reason that his band signed to Merge. Jesse Lacey of Brand New called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea "the greatest record ever written", and has covered "Holland, 1945", "Oh Comely", and "Two-Headed Boy, Part Two" in concert. In August 2010 The Swell Season covered "Two-Headed Boy" for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series. Later, in the same year, American musical duo Dresden Dolls also covered "Two-Headed Boy" for The A.V. Club's Holiday Undercover series. In 2010 a group called Neutral Uke Hotel began touring playing ukulele covers of all the songs on the album. Phish covered "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" in a concert on 26 June 2010 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD.
|1.||"The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One"||2:00|
|2.||"The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three" (writers: Jeremy Barnes, Julian Koster, Jeff Mangum, Scott Spillane)||3:06|
|3.||"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"||3:22|
|5.||"The Fool" (writers: Spillane)||1:53|
|4.||"Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two"||5:13|
- Jeff Mangum – vocals, guitar, organ, floor tom, bowed fuzz bass, tapes, shortwave radio, art direction
- Jeremy Barnes – drums, organ
- Julian Koster – Wandering Genie, the singing saw, bowed banjo, accordion, white noise
- Scott Spillane – trumpet, trombone, flugelhorn, euphonium, horn arrangements
- Robert Schneider – home organ, air organ, fuzz bass, harmony vocals, one-note piano, horn arrangements
- Laura Carter – zanzithophone
- Rick Benjamin – trombone
- Marisa Bissinger – saxophone, flugelhorn
- James Guyatt – percussion
- Michelle Anderson – Uilleann pipes
- Chris Bilheimer – art direction
- Brian Dewan – illustrations
|Amazon.com||United States||The 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time||2009||#2|
|Blender||U.S.||100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever||2007||#32|
|Entertainment Weekly||U.S.||Indie Rock 25||2008||
|Magnet||U.S.||Top 60 Albums, 1993-2003||2003||#1|
|Nude as the News||U.S.||The 100 Most Compelling Albums of the 90s||1999||#3|
|Pitchfork Media||U.S.||Top 100 Albums of the 1990s||2003||#4|
|Paste||U.S.||The Best 90 Albums of the 1990s||2012||#2|
|Q magazine||United Kingdom||Top 30 Albums of the Past 25 Years||2010||#16|
|Spin||U.S.||100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005||2005||#97|
|Village Voice||U.S.||Pazz & Jop: Albums of the Year||1998||#15|
(*) denotes an unranked list.
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Its opaque, surrealistic narratives about wartime Europe and two-headed children proceed in a breathless, mellifluous torrent across a lo-fi landscape of thrumming acoustics, soaring brass and, on the title track, massed bowed saws.
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[W]ith unhinged evangelical urgency and ambitiously ramshackle arrangements...
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