In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Neutral Milk Hotel – February 1998


I was lucky enough to come to life in the country that invented Fado. Now, Fado is a huge cultural footprint, cemented on powerful voices such as Amália Rodrigues or Carlos do Carmo. Perhaps that’s why Jeff Magnum‘s breathtaking vocals came down on me so hard: his voice is oh so so clear, so majestic, so entrenching, so well-rounded and taken advantage of in the recordings; the lyrics are but a mere bonus on the impact created by the cocktail of voice and instrumentals, and even these fail to fall behind.

I was told many many times how much of a masterpiece this album is before listening to it. I was also told it’s just another album. Expectations were even.

I was caught up right from the start; “I will shout until they know what I mean”, and so he did, and he did it with a passion you can’t ignore, a heart as big as his breath, so big you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.

Then it hit me.

The title track blew everything away. From that moment onward i was living it. I wasn’t just laying down sipping coffee and listening to an album. I was the album. I was it. Me, my friends, my memories and my expectations were there. I felt.

Once you’re inside the absurd voyage, you struggle to grip. Lost inside the instrumentals thant range from your traditional (distorted and clean) guitars and drums to a haunting mix of musical saw and trumpets and goodness, you just float along. You listen to what the man says and you listen to it thoughtfully, even though it scratches the absurd. Why is she a little boy in Spain? Don’t ask me, but…

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on

And soon enough it’s over. You try to go back; On Avery Island is but a shadow, that could be but isn’t. You’re left with this. In the Aeroplane Over The Sea. A ming-boggling masterpiece that you hold on to. It makes you feel alive like few albums do.




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