Daily Dose: ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ by Neutral Milk Hotel

I’ve been listening to this song for days now, and I’ve not got tired of it yet. Neutral Milk Hotel’s album of the same name (February 10, 1998) was hailed as a classic in some quarters at the time, and has been generally praised subsequently, but what stands out to me was how ahead of its time it was, in a lot of ways. Okay, few people pack the lyrical density of Jeff Mangum into their songs, but the lazy lo-fi instrumentation and sweeping melancholy of songs such as this one can be heard in much of today output, not to mention the indie rock heyday of the early to mid 2000’s. The lyrics are easily audible yet not simple to decipher, which is the best of all worlds, and while Mangum does not have a conventionally beautiful voice (dylanesque springs to mind), the strain he places on the vocals actually makes it more heartfelt and emotional. I’d rate it as an exemplary indie pop/rock/folk (whatever) song, but I can imagine that if you are not as sold on its charm and brashness, you may find it more of an awkward listen. At its core though, it’s just an absolutely lovely song, even if you don’t take to some of the trimmings or presentation. I’ve been loving listening to it, and I’m going to head back and run through the album again. What puts it over the top for me is how uplifting it is to sing along to, and that’s something that I’ve done a lot these past few days; its hopeful nature and earnest fullness makes into a song that once it does click, becomes one that you want to listen to over and over again. Bring back the singing saw, I say.


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