5. neutral milk hotel - two-headed boy pt 2
this is a pretty obvious pick, huh. and also a pretty stupid one. what can i say about neutral milk hotel that other people haven't? okay, i'm going to start with a confession: neutral milk hotel are not my favourite band and this is not my favourite album. it doesn't make me want to cry or join/form/destroy a religious cult. i do not hate it. try as i may, i cannot love it. maybe i have come too late to join the party and i've heard so much about the party and seen so many awesome posters and heard so many awesome rumours about it that all i can taste is the slightly gross punch instead of the amazing times to be had (oh, extended metaphors in the early hours, how i love them. apparently). but i don't know. it's good, certainly - jeff's voice works very well, obviously, and i think the songs are very well-written. it's just, er, not a religious experience for me. maybe i just don't get that involved with music.
anyway i'm not really here to externalise my internal debate about neutral milk hotel because frankly, it's boring. the album is a very fine one and i like all of the songs on it.
this is a 'pt 2', so that makes it sound a bit like it comes second after the other one and so won't be as good. this is not true. it's the best song on the album as far as i'm concerned - it's gorgeous and not too busy, you can hear all the words and the lyrics are just so gorgeous, all your tongue in his teeth and sounding only at night as you sleep. it's one of the ones that has stuff about anne frank in, which a lot on the album do, and he talks about how she's alive in his dreams but she's crying. one of jeff mangum's strengths that's on display in this song is that his lyrics are weird and beautiful and strange but he delivers them in a very direct, emotional way... though he's singing things like she will feed you tomatoes and radio wires he's not being weird about it, he's singing it like it's natural, not like he's being clever and arty. not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that, i wish i was clever and arty, but it means this song never feels lightweight or like an exercise. and few songs contain moments as moving as the moment towards the end of this when he sings god is a place you will wait for the rest of your life and i'm not sure what it is but that just gets me every time. the ending's great, too.
it's the best song on the album. he's drawing it all to an end and the song is so... unfuckwithable. he speeds up and slows down and sounds as if he knows where he's going, he can see it all and he's just letting us know. amazing.