My oh my, this shouldn’t be a surprise. When it comes to bands under the radar their is no album more contested than Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Some people call it the threshold that needs to be passed for every new album (and consistently rated in the top five albums of the 90s) , others (as one of my friends called it) ” a mess of hot garbage. It’s literally just young people complaining about life .” Personally I think it’s just… okay. Not perfect or garbage, just okay. Let me explain before everyone grabs some pitchforks and torches.
While the album was released in 1998, I didn’t get it until a whole decade later near the anniversary of the release. The first full listen I was amazed by Jeff Magnum’s voice as he yelled “Jesus Christ” at the top of his lungs and made me feel happy when he sings, “What a beautiful face I have found in this place.”
Of course most albums are great the first time you listen to them, you latch on to the stand outs.
Holland, 1945 still stands out as a great song, and the references to Anne Frank make it a unique song will always stand on its own. All three parts of King of Carrot Flowers, as well, are just as nice and fun songs that tackle heavy subjects. After all not every song makes you smile at the juxtaposition of two young lovers deeply in love next to their parents who are either alcoholics or contemplating suicide.
Yet, that is part of the problem holding the album back for me. Outside of the few songs that really stand out, this album is so ingrained in the 90s that even for me there seems to an abundance of nostalgia.
While we can always view things with some rose tinted glasses, too much it a hindrance. Great albums pass the test of time, beyond the decades they were made in. Sgt. Pepper’s isn’t just a look into the 60’s, an album that changed a genre to be more than catchy songs.
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is great album but far from the perfect one that people think it is. None the less it isn’t garbage, so back off Eric from my senior year English class. Let me listen to it in peace.