One of the most unique indie rock albums of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel’s sophomore album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is a must for a California road trip.
A kaleidoscopic, marching band waltz into the warped imagination of band leader Jeff Magnum, the record somehow pulls together such disparate themes as the death of Anne Frank, an all-encompassing lust and spiritual dreams into one very strange, but oddly compelling, narrative.
The songs, performed with great emotion and intensity, seamlessly flow into one another, just as they did on the band’s 1996 début On Avery Island. And though it is near impossible to even try and work out what Mangum is going on about in any given song (there’s something to do with sexual anxiety and strange thrill to be alive) this doesn’t inhibit the any enjoyment of the music.
The songs are uniformly fantastic, a variety of ornate instrumentation and effects are used to create a heady brew. The title track is a clear highlight, as well as the intense ‘Two Headed Boy’, three parted “The King of Carrot Flowers” and plaintive ‘Communist Daughter’.
A left field choice for the road perhaps, but a record that encapsulates freedom and the thrill of being alive.
Try also: Neutral Milk Hotel On Avery Island (Merge, 1996).