Of all the rock music to come slithering out of the mud puddle that was the 1990s, Neutral Milk Hotel's has aged most gracefully. It was music that wasn't beholden to the mores of the decade, that was ignorant of the grunge revolution, except perhaps when it came to an affection for lower fidelity, and contained themes so aching and sincere, they approached the perfectly timeless.
Which is why we're still writing about them, and why Merge is reissuing the band's albums on 180 gram vinyl on November 3rd.
If you don't know (and we'd never blame you if you didn't--take a few steps outside of an indie rock cloister, and the name Jeff Mangum is virtually unknown), Neutral Milk Hotel was a rock band that punctuated the tail end of the 1990s with two, and only two, albums, On Avery Island, and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. In the decade since their releases, the albums have grown in stature, so that basement dwelling music critics end up penning hyperbolous paragraphs of praise, not unlike the graf that opens this blog (ahem).
But hey. It's not often that you hear music that is, for all intents and purposes, perfect. No, they aren't the world's greatest musicians. Yes, Mangum's voice can careen into the nasal and affected. But rarely does an artist's execution feel so total as on those two albums.
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea was the starting point for most NMH fans, a heartbreaking, ambitious concept album about Anne Frank and the holocaust. Avery Island is more gritty and grimy, and you can hear them stretching their legs like a warm-up sprint before embarking on the double marathon.
November 3rd is the date, and both albums will be packaged with download codes, so the digitally hip can listen on their little i-thingies at a bajillion kbps. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.