Thursday, October 25, 2012

Neutral Milk Hotel

I just started listening to Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I was warned it would be a good album.

I wasn't prepared for this. I'm on the first song and I'm...feeling?

“Music is like no other art.” It is communication but it isn't, it is representational, it is figurative. I believe that music is potent because it taps into our gut. The animal brain activates; elicits an order we didn't know existed.

Somehow it fires on the other senses. I smell things, taste things, crave things, and see colors I can only imagine.

And it makes the body move.

Good music taps into the emotional core; create a physical space without doing anything.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. There are very few perfect albums out there. Abbey Road is a perfect album. This year Regina Spektor gave me a perfect album—What We Saw From the Cheap Seats. The Flaming Lips had a perfect album in Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

Perfect albums are the albums that you listen to and hear something new each time—the surprises for the repeat listener.

But a perfect album is not everything. Some of my favorite artists have never had a perfect album in my opinion. But they have plenty of perfect songs. And just good songs. And songs that suck.

This album isn't perfect. Graceland is a perfect album.

This album is good though. It screws with my sense of space and time. It sounds like the 90s that I want to remember in a grunge folk nostalgia. A hot summer's day, a dusty living room, a stuffy car. It is the music that was somehow a soundtrack. A background noise that quietly entered the spaces I occupied. And just as quietly played.

I never heard it, but it was there.

And that's what makes this album good.

And the album is short. Eleven songs make the album only 39:55.

This album is the unrestrained tension and anger, the disenfranchisement, the disaffection of gen x when they realized that they had everything but none of it belonged to them. Mom's car, dad's job connections, and a changing professional world. Too young to be behind the curve, too old to be ahead.

The album does what they did, it lashes out at the world; a fuzz noise that deters those who refuse to understand and conspiratorially pulls in the attentive listener. It's telling a secret to the lost teenagers of the 90s.

And as a young adult of the 10s I can hear the message, without the same sense of loss, but certainly the same sense of being lost.

I stepped back two decades and heard the ghost of a generation. I wonder how this album resonates with them now?

The album just ended. The room is empty. I didn't know I would miss it this much.