Artist: Neutral Milk Hotel
Song: The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1
Album: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
The opener from Neutral Milk Hotel’s bizarre masterpiece In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Like any great opener, this song manages to grab the listener’s attention while also serving as somewhat of a preview for the rest of the album. The catchy acoustic chord progression and pop melody make this one of NMH’s most accessible tunes; it’s certainly as accessible as a song with lyrics like “and Dad would dream of all the different ways to die/ each one a little more than he would dare to trrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy” can possibly be. Even the levels of instrumentation piled on top of Jeff Magnum’s guitar (a bizarre combination of largely accordion and brass that has been described by critics over the years as sounding like “a marching band on an acid trip”) adds to the song’s charm. Finally, the song is blessed with the lyrical presence of Magnum. There is a constant conflict between affirmation of life and gloomy realism in Magnum’s lyrics, and I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate that than putting the previously quoted lyric alongside a description of young love as beautiful and instantly memorable as “as we would lay and learn what each others bodies were for” in the same song.