Sunday, 6 October 2013

I wish I was the king of carrot flowers

As of Tuesday (My birthday, thanks for wishing me a happy one) I knew very little about Neutral Milk Hotel. I had heard the name tossed around by various music prophets and referenced in a number of pop cultural contexts but I’d never been so far inclined as to look any further, a grave mistake on my part.
Let me start by saying this is absurdly unlike me. As a rule of my pathetically petit and insecure thumb I feel instinctually obligated to be the most musically savvy person in a metaphorical room, an insignificant and admittedly ambitious prerogative but one I feel ultimately compelled to be a part of.
On the day of last Tues browsing the plastic cases, or what’s left of them, in a local HMV I overhear a couple of familiar ragtag and indigent students discussing Jeff Mangum’s various musical pursuits. An overwhelming sense of peril overcome my being as I swiftly and carelessly cantered, avoiding attention drawing, over to the N section of HMV’s equivocally lax titled ‘Pop & Rock’ collection. One copy Left. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, I spent 9 of the Queen’s English Sterling and rushed home to stick it in my earholes. I was head-over-heels instantly.

Drawing inspiration from Elliott Smith the lyrics are morose, gruesome and tragically beautiful. Jeff Mangum is rendered infamous for his complex past which deals with affairs of incest and his brother’s untimely suicide. These tragedies however only add to how romantically devastating this record is. Mangum was borderline obsessed with the diary and tale of Anne Frank and that shines prolifically within these tracks. Describing Anne’s diary as his ‘secret place’ this LP truly portrays Mangum as a troubled soul finding solace in similarly depraved reading material. Although misery is resonant theme within Mangum’s songwriting style the performance of these pieces is delivered with such a euphoric optimism and insight.

Very few Indie Rock records can be described as classic. As a genre it can often be perceived as superficial and unambitious which is a statement I can often get on board with. Neutral Milk Hotel changed the game with this release. Mangum is a genuine catcher of dreams and his creativity is only matched by his innate ability to synthesize emotions into melodic poems that burrow themselves into your skin, brain and heart, I can’t believe i’d waited this long to hear them.

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