Neutral Milk Hotel
From In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
This album is more than just an album. It’s a little miracle. It’s eleven tracks of aural surrealism. It is one of the most wonderful, spirited, jubilant, melancholy, aching, beautiful, bittersweet, resonant, passionate, visionary, rapturous things that I have ever experienced - because it’s one of those albums that shouldn’t merely be passively heard - it should be inhaled, exhaled, digested and, of course, felt through and through.
Sometimes I wonder if the sheer creative effort put forth to produce this album wasn’t part of what broke Jeff Mangum and caused him to stop making music. I always held onto hope that he might resurface one day. Recently he began making the odd appearance and then it was announced that he’d be playing a set at the Portishead-curated ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror Festival. And now, wonder of wonders, he’s announced upcoming performances along the east coast of the United States and will be curating All Tomorrow’s Parties in England in December. So maybe we can finally take a deep breath and hope that there will be more wonderful music made and shared by this man and perhaps some of his very gifted collaborators as well.
But the thing is, even if he never resurfaced, even if he doesn’t put out just one more song, he’s already given us an amazing gift and for that we’re in his debt. Listen to this album from start to finish. Listen to it with headphones on. Listen to all those wonderful musicians playing like tomorrow isn’t even a remote possibility. Listen to Jeff Mangum sing his heart out for you. Let all their efforts paint pictures behind your eyes, take hold of your heart, and carry you away. And then at the very end, listen carefully and you’ll hear him put down his guitar, get up, and walk away…and then, please, say thank you.