#21: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

Posted on Mar 25, 2006

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is one of those records where people either know instantly what you’re talking about or look at you like you are from Mars. “Neutral Milk Hotel?” they say. “Sounds like something I don’t want around my children.”

And, to be honest, they’re probably right. Those who’ve listened to Invent Yourself a Shortcake know that it’s possible for Jeff Mangum (the driving force behind NMH) to engage in the sort of arty-noise that I really do not like. Mangum personally was (and likely is) a prodigious drug user; I have a live show on KCRW where he admits to having the flu and being on an acid trip for about three days before taping. Mothers, lock up your daughters!

But In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is one of the poppiest, yummiest rock records to come out of the independent scene in my lifetime. Accordians, horns (distorted and otherwise), guitar tracks that sounds like they were resurrected from a deteriorating 2-track, and that bizarre voice contribute to a singular sort of record. You hear The Decemberists comparisons nowadays, and I can see why. Both share bizarre instrumentation, affected vocal style, strange lyrics. What sets Aeroplane apart is its energy and unpredictible nature. Plus, I think it’s a good bit more fun– not that Castaways And Cutouts isn’t a great record, too.

The record is something that has to be heard to know if you’d like it or not, so go try it out.