Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

1. Neutral Milk HotelIn The Aeroplane Over The Sea

One of the main reasons I adore this record is the way the raw emotion of Jeff Mangum’s voice and guitar is jammed hard against this huge, unfathomable, multi-textured folk orchestra. Obviously loads has been written about it already, and no-one is going to question its brilliance, but despite the familiarity it’s still an incredibly rare gem. When I listened to this album for the very first time, I absolutely hated it. I didn’t get it, especially when the pipes come in, and the dodgy tuning on the horns, and this voice that’s nasal and harsh, and I was like, "What is this? No!" Then one day, when I happened to be in a severely pissed off mood with life, the universe and everything, I put it on and this strange, rambunctious, sex-and-death-obsessed ranty man was like: "Fuck you and your problems, here’s a song about Nazi medical experiments", and it all made sense. I’ve been enamoured ever since.

There’s masses of references, themes and emotions to digest and be moved by, kind of like a book of poetry. I love his ability to intertwine personal feelings and experiences with the bigger story about Anne Frank. Like ‘Holland, 1945’, with the lines, "And here is the room where your brothers were born/ Indentions in the sheets where their bodies once moved, but don’t move anymore…" The magic thing is that through all the darkness of its subject, this is still music that can have a sense of fun, and that fun and playfulness is really key to understanding the darker side of human emotions.

I went to see Jeff Mangum at Coachella, and he came on, all hairy, with these three raggedy old horn players, and played the whole of this album and it was incredible. He’s got this aggressive vocal tone that’s spawned so many copycats. It’s funny with indie men: someone starts a trend and it’s like wildfire. At the moment it’s those little throat-cries at the end of each line, I hate it. And the Pointless Indie Oh. You know, ‘Oh-oh-oh!’ I blame Beyoncé. After ‘Crazy In Love’, everyone was like "You need an Oh". If you’ve got a riff, put it on an instrument, make it interesting!

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: John Robins,
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