A perfect segue into a perfect album, King of the Carrot Flowers is a masterpiece. This is the way songs should be written, performed, and produced. Jeff Mangum strums the catchiest 3 chords on his acoustic guitar while his piercing vocals spill lyrics of psychedelic sophistication. I can still remember the first time I heard him sing the lyric - 'and your mom would drink until she was no longer speaking, and dad would dream of all the different ways to die, each one a little more than he would dare to try' - in a rising climax. The energy and power is then sustained into a C drone from an organ, followed by an amped acoustic guitar being plucked clumsily. And like a street preacher we again hear Jeff, he belts 'I love you Jesus Christ' while the rest of the band hit fuzzed-out power chords F and C until a storm swells with cymbals, horn, bass, guitar, Jeff's voice and another rising movement to yet another climax. Propelled by an electric frequency that chops like a helicopter blade inches over-head we are lead into Part 3, often referred to as 'Up and Over'. This last part explodes into fuzz rock in all it's garage-roots glory with lyrics like - 'I will shout until they know what I mean, I mean the marriage of a dead dog sing, in a synthetic flying machine'. As the fuzz is sustained heavily the song ends with 1 last climax; the one-note piano brings us to a close.
King of the Carrot Flowers Part 1 introduces the theme of 'loss of innocence'. The narrator, addressing his lover nostalgically, compares the emotional deterioration of the older parents with the emotional and sexual discovery of their youth - 'your mom would stick a fork right into daddy's shoulder, and dad would throw the garbage all across the floor, as we would lay and learn what each other's bodies were for.' This motive returns later in the album, as does his 'Jesus Christ' theme. Jeff Mangum alerts the listener in his lyric sheet that he believes what he sings, and that this 'Christ' theme is but the spiritual light he finds within everything. The album further treats themes like the Holocaust, death of loved ones, visions of ghosts, and all the horrors of man with this light. It is a beautiful and terrifying experience unlike any rock record to date. Personally, my favorite song of all time.
I didn't know it then, but when I purchased the album 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' my world changed. When I put the album into my CD player, I did it with a naivete of someone who thought they'd 'heard it all.' I did it clumsily, with haste, handled like a Beatles or Beach Boys album, the way I had done for years. When I listened to the album I did it with reckless abandon while driving 38 miles per hour on my lunch break, and later in the drive-through at McDonald’s. These mistakes were inherited, and I refuse blame. They were passed through the genetic make-up of our peers and born out of the music we've been given; I didn't expect this! Well, our music has changed, and it did so without our knowing and our approval. This album proved and disproved an entire treatise of critical analysis on a generation of music that I thought I had known, and it did so with a fucking velvet sledgehammer.
The lyrics: "And one day we will die and our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea, but for now we are young let us lay in the sun and count every beautiful thing we can see." More lyrics: "What a beautiful face I have found in this place that is circling all around the sun, what a beautiful dream that would flash in the screen in a blink of an eye and be gone from me." The melody: A timeless, haunting thing that was metaphysically resurrected from a wiser place. The voice: Wrenched out of the jaws of a holocaust from 50 years ago, we hear a possessed Jeff Mangum invest his soul. The sound: An apocalypse that can reinvent the turntable by it’s simplistic form; with a saw, guitar, drum, bass, horns, and lord knows what else all handled with deceptive elegance of a garage mechanic constructing a supermodel. And, lastly, the spirit: A tragedy and rape of virginity known only to the persecuted and executed; the ghost of Anne Frank materializes long enough to show us her world, and in her hands we are strangely at peace.
This song is a gift very few will experience. It is endless in its reach and should be accepted like a sibling into your collection. It will one day prove itself beyond category, but for now it is a masterful novel from the hands of a mysterious songwriter who should know how sincerely I cherish his songs.
from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
27 Jun 01 ·karlmort: this album is going to make a huge impact on you if you dare to listen. 21 Jul 03 ·evolutum: All I have to say is that I agree with the above. My wife and I had this song played at our wedding reception. With tears in our eyes we danced. I would like to have it played at my funeral. 07 Jan 04 ·umbrellasfollowrain: Whenever I hear that someone loves this album as much as I do this strange things happens where I want to draw you all into a bearhug where we cry our fears away all through the long night. 04 Oct 05 ·el.oh man.: this song can make you feel so many emotions at once. it truly is a wrok of art. there is almost no way that you wouldnt like it. everytime i hear it, i fall in love with the amazing writing talents of these guys. 13 Nov 05 ·pullmyhair: This is one of my most life-changing albums. It does something to me, almost spiritually. If people have an open mind, they need to hear this.