In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
In the aeroplane over the sea album cover copy.jpg
Studio album by Neutral Milk Hotel
Released February 10, 1998
Recorded July–September 1997
Studio Pet Sounds Studio, Denver, Colorado
Length 39:55
Label Merge, Domino
Producer Robert Schneider
Neutral Milk Hotel chronology
On Avery Island
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Ferris Wheel on Fire

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is the second album by 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.

The album was the sixth-best-selling vinyl album in 2008.[1] NME named it the 98th greatest album of all time.[2]


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.[3] 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.[4]

Album cover[edit]

Chris Bilheimer altered an old postcard to create the album's cover.

The album's cover was a collaboration between Mangum and R.E.M.'s staff designer, Chris Bilheimer.[5] 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."[6] 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.[6] 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, and Bilheimer suggested he use both.[7]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating 5/5 stars[8]
AbsolutePunk (10/10)[9]
AllMusic 5/5 stars[10]
Pitchfork Media (10.0/10)[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[11]
Spin (7/10)[12]
Sputnikmusic (5/5)[13]
Tiny Mix Tapes 5/5 stars[14]

For contemporary reviews of the album, the College Music Journal called Aeroplane a "A true lo-fi pop landmark" and cited "Holland, 1945" as a highlight.[15] Pitchfork Media's M. Christian McDermott gave the album an 8.7 out of 10, referring to Neutral Milk Hotel as "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."[16] A review by Ben Ratliff in Rolling Stone gave the album a three star rating, stating "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."[11] Spin referred to the album as "cut-and-paste pop songs 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"[12]

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, but criticized the lyrics as vague in meaning, saying, "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."[10] Robert Christgau rated the album a "Neither",[17] 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."[18]

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.

The sixth track of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. This sample contains the end of the second verse and the beginning of the chorus. The song prominently features distorted guitars, Jeremy Barnes's drumming, and horn arrangements by Robert Schneider and Scott Spillane.

Problems playing these files? See media help.

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."[19] 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.[4] 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."[20]

Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler named Aeroplane as a chief reason that his band signed to Merge.[21] 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.[22][23] In August 2010 The Swell Season covered "Two-Headed Boy" for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series.[24] Later, in the same year, American musical duo Dresden Dolls also covered "Two-Headed Boy" for The A.V. Club‍‍ '​‍s Holiday Undercover series.[25] In 2010 a group called Neutral Uke Hotel began touring playing ukulele covers of all the songs on the album.[26]

Track listing[edit]

On later releases, track 10 was given the name "The Penny Arcade in California".[citation needed]

All songs written by Jeff Mangum, except where indicated. Horn arrangements by Robert Schneider and Scott Spillane.

No. Title Lyrics Length
1. "The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One"     2:00
2. "The King of Carrot Flowers Pts. Two & Three"   Jeremy Barnes, Julian Koster, Jeff Mangum, Scott Spillane 3:06
3. "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"     3:22
4. "Two-Headed Boy"     4:26
5. "The Fool"   Spillane, Robert Schneider 1:53
6. "Holland, 1945"     3:15
7. "Communist Daughter"     1:57
8. "Oh Comely"     8:18
9. "Ghost"     4:08
10. Untitled     2:16
11. "Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two"     5:13
Total length:


Neutral Milk Hotel
Additional musicians
Additional credits
  • Chris Bilheimer – art direction
  • Brian Dewan – illustrations


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank United States The 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time[27] 2009 #2
Blender U.S. 100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever[28] 2007 #32
Entertainment Weekly U.S. Indie Rock 25[29] 2008
Magnet U.S. Top 60 Albums, 1993-2003[30] 2003 #1
Nude as the News U.S. The 100 Most Compelling Albums of the 90s[31] 1999 #3
Pitchfork Media U.S. Top 100 Albums of the 1990s[32] 2003 #4
Paste U.S. The Best 90 Albums of the 1990s[33] 2012 #2
Q magazine United Kingdom Top 30 Albums of the Past 25 Years[34] 2010 #16
Spin U.S. 100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005[35] 2005 #97
Village Voice U.S. Pazz & Jop: Albums of the Year[36] 1998 #15

(*) denotes an unranked list.


  1. ^ Kreps, Daniel (January 8, 2009). "Radiohead, Neutral Milk Hotel Help Vinyl Sales Almost Double in 2008". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 5, 2009. 
  2. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". NME. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ Clark, Taylor (February 26, 2008). "Jeff Mangum, the Salinger of indie rock". Retrieved on February 23, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Richardson, Mark (September 26, 2005). "Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 16, 2007. 
  5. ^ Cooper (2005), p. 79 [1].
  6. ^ a b Cooper (2005), p. 81 [2].
  7. ^ Cooper (2005), p. 82 [3].
  8. ^ Carew, Anthony. "Definitive Albums: Neutral Milk Hotel 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' (1998)". Retrieved on July 16, 2012.
  9. ^ Pfleider, Adam
  10. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved on November 15, 2007.
  11. ^ a b Ratliff, Ben. "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: Neutral Milk Hotel". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 16, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Himmelsbach, Erik (March 1998). "Reviews". Spin (SPIN Media LLC) 14 (3): 134–135. ISSN 0886-3032. 
  13. ^ Thomas, Adam (August 31, 2011). "Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (album review 6) : Sputnikmusic". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ Tiny Mix Tapes Review
  15. ^ Helms, Colin. "Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" at the Wayback Machine (archived February 2, 2009). College Music Journal. Retrieved on November 16, 2007.
  16. ^ McDermott, M. Christian (1998). "Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" at the Wayback Machine (archived September 22, 2004). Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on November 16, 2007.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Neutral Milk Hotel". Retrieved on November 15, 2007.
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 2, 1999). "La-Di-Da-Di-Di? Or La-Di-Da-Di-Da?". Village Voice. Retrieved on November 15, 2007.
  19. ^ Bracket and Hoard (2004), p. 579.
  20. ^ Layman, Will (December 19, 2005). "Best Reissues of 2005: 17 Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Domino)". PopMatters. Retrieved on November 16, 2007.
  21. ^ Schreiber, Ryan (February 14, 2005). "Interview: The Arcade Fire". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on November 17, 2007.
  22. ^ "Brand New singer covers Neutral Milk Hotel's ‘Oh Comely’". The Phoenix. May 1, 2007. Retrieved on December 24, 2007.
  23. ^ "Jesse Lacey playing Neutral Milk Hotel's Two Headed Boy Part 2 at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA on August 4th, 2008" on YouTube. Retrieved on July 16, 2012.
  24. ^ Padgett, Ray (August 10, 2010). "The Swell Season Bring Their Oscar-Winning Hollers to Neutral Milk Hotel". Cover Me. Retrieved on July 16, 2012.
  25. ^ "Dresden Dolls cover Neutral Milk Hotel". Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  26. ^ Padgett, Ray (August 6, 2010). "Song of the Day: Neutral Uke Hotel, ‘The King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One’". Cover Me. Retrieved on July 16, 2012.
  27. ^ "The 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of All Time". March 23, 2009. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
  28. ^ "100 Greatest Indie-Rock Albums Ever". Blender. November 14, 2007. Retrieved on February 12, 2011.
  29. ^ "Indie Rock 25". Entertainment Weekly. March 20, 2008. Retrieved on January 4, 2013.
  30. ^ "‘The Evidence’: Magnet's Top 60 Albums, 1993-2003 (10th Anniversary Issue)". Magnet. Retrieved on November 15, 2007.
  31. ^ Carpenter, Troy. "3. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" at the Wayback Machine (archived March 15, 2004). Nude as the News. Retrieved on November 15, 2007.
  32. ^ LeMay, Matt (November 17, 2003). "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on November 15, 2007.
  33. ^ Jackson, Josh (February 24, 2012). [4]. Paste (Magazine). Retrieved on July 28, 2014.
  34. ^ "Q's top 30 albums of the past 25 years: 16. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel". The Independent. December 23, 2010. Retrieved on December 23, 2010.
  35. ^ "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005". Spin. June 20, 2005. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
  36. ^ "The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Music Poll: Winners: Albums 1998". Village Voice. Retrieved on November 27, 2009.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]