The spaces opened by the rise of post-rock have made room for the acoustic brilliance of Neutral Milk Hotel. On "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea," Jeff Mangum and his collective upturn logs in the piney woods, uncovering not compost but jewels and a songbook drawn from the not-so-unlikely collision of pentecostal revival and traveling circus.
"The King of the Carrot Flowers Pt. One" opens with an acoustic guitar strum that sets the tone for Mangum's song of spiritual fervor and flesh. Evoking a medicine show of subjective faith and history, he sings, I love you Jesus Christ over a lonely din that becomes a punk blizzard. While capable of spinning tales taller than most can stand, the band doesn't exhaust its use of brass, woodwinds, accordion and effects until they establish a proper setting for their storytelling.