Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The debut record from Jeff Mangum and friends

Jeff Mangum's band only made two studio albums and then vanished into the realm of mystique. Neutral Milk Hotel was affiliated with the Elephant 6 collective, a loose group of psychedelic bands that traded home-recorded tapes and contributed to each other's projects. On this debut, Mangum was backed up by members of the Apples in Stereo, and they cascaded cheap keyboards, fuzzboxes, xylophones and trombones in march formation around his keening voice, like a funeral procession in a toy factory. He's a magnificent, almost prayerful songwriter, and although In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is probably NMH's better-loved record, On Avery Island's surreal imagery and cascading energy are a joy.