|King of the Carrot Flowers Prt. 1,2 & 3. performed by Neutral Milk Hotel ()|
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.