Last year I blabbered on about how great Neutral Milk Hotel are and how their record ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ is one of my favourites. While that is true, their debut record ‘On Avery Island’ is something of a mystery to me. I’ve gone over it twice in the last week and I can’t quite decide whether I like it or not. Let me explain why…
There’s a lot to deal with in this record. “Pree-Sisters Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye” for example is just 13 minutes of noise. It’s not interesting and I don’t see how it finishes the album. I get the sound they went for throughout, the records distorted sound and what not. But it seems like a waste. That’s just my opinion of course! There are other tracks on the record that bother me too though, such as the opener ‘Someone Is Waiting’ and ‘Marching Theme’. Both heavily distorted, they may as well end 2 seconds after they begin. Give ‘Marching Theme’ a listen, I’m not just saying that for the craic!
The best track here might be the shortest, ‘A Baby For Free’. It’s a simple, acoustic track where we can actually make out what’s going on! There’s more of that on their famous follow up, but here it seems to be one of few shining lights. I guess another benefit of the record was that it helped the band find their direction. Beyond that, I can only hear noise.
If you start with ‘On Avery Island’, don’t let it turn you off Neutral Milk Hotel. They find their rhythm in their follow-up, so keep listening once you’ve started.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com