Of all the recordings to emerge from the Athens-via-Denver collectivecalled Elephant 6, Neutral Milk Hotels second album is the one that hasworked its way under the most skins. Magnet magazine named it the bestalbum of the 1990s, and Creative Loafing recently devoted a cover storyto one fans quest to understand why band leader Jeff Mangum dropped outof sight soon after Aeroplanes release. The record sells steadily toan audience that finds it through word of mouth.Weird, beautiful, absorbing, difficult, In The Aeroplane Over the Seais a surrealist text loosely based on the life, suffering andreincarnation of Anne Frank, with guest appearances from a pair ofSiamese twins menaced by the cold and carnivores, a two-headed boybobbing in a jar, anthropomorphic vegetables and a variety of immatureerotic horrors.Mangum sings his dreamlike narratives with a dreamer's intensity, hiscreaky, off key voice occasionally breaking as he struggles to completeeach dense couplet. The music is like nothing else in the 90s indieunderground: a psychedelic brass band, its members self-taught, forgingpolychromatic washes of mood and tribute. The songs stick to one narrowkey, the images repeat and circle back, and to listen is to be absorbedinto a singular, heart-rending vision.

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