Seeing as how I've already described what it is I love about the albums that have made it into round 2, the posts here are going to generally be a bit shorter and are going to have as their focus the relative merits of each album. It's of course very difficult to criticize any of the contenders here because they not only made my first list but have already been deemed BETTER than other really amazing pieces of musical art so there won't be much of that going on either. All that having been said (typed?) the victor in this particular contest is actually quite clear. Regardless, I'm going to try to riff for awhile so bear with me.
For those of you that read this and don't know me well, let me go ahead and put this out there... I'm a man of inaction. Crippling inaction. I'm a wuss, a woman, a fuck up. All of the above. These things have either made me the neurotic, hand wringing, wallflower that those who know me can count on to do nothing OR are because of the fact that I'm a neurotic, hand wringing, wallflower. However you want to look at it, that's , in the immortal words of DMX, "Who I be."
Now for just a moment, allow me to defend this reprehensible and foolish behavior. Sure you're costing yourself big time in the whole "potential for future happiness" department BUT you're also preserving some pretty great moments in time. By NOT acting, the person or goal that is the object of your affection essentially firms up its status as the perfect dream. Forevermore that person upon which you did not hit* will be that perfect specimen that you drunkenly spotted while perched on a bar stool or that awesome girl that you talked to at that one party who really liked the new TV on the Radio album... she won't become that person who rejected you, or that girl who actually turned away from you and stopped listening to your game midsentence. That crazy dream job STAYS a dream job because you never get a chance to realize that it's a bigger pain in the ass than you ever knew. The dream STAYS, in essence, pure and perfect because it is so fleeting that you don't have time to fuck it up. Keep in mind of course that in practice this stuff is OBVIOUSLY ridiculous and I wouldn't actually suggest this type of behavior to anyone... ever.
Now here's the connection...
Conceptually, this is WHY In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is better than Daydream Nation. Sonic Youth have been so prolific compared with the hermit-like Jeff Mangum and his two album tenured vehicle Neutral Milk Hotel. When I listen to Daydream Nation, as amazing as it is, I still hear the missteps of their later efforts. I hear the fact that a lot of the things they do sound the same. Standing on its own, in a vacuum, Daydream Nation might feel even more brilliant than it already does but the fact of the matter is it doesn't stand on its own. Aside from the slightly uneven debut Avery Island, all we have from Jeff Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel is In the Aeroplane Over the Sea so in essence it DOES stand on its own... we can assume that the progression from debut to sophomore effort is such that it would continue in perpetuity. This is a virtue that only those that go out on top possess and it's one that's hard to deny. The only thing that mitigates the greatness is that it is so fleeting and who knows? Maybe the world REALLY IS missing out on some life altering music because of Mangum's self imposed hiatus? But can't it be enough as it is? Isn't that brief perfection better than even long term greatness? I think so.
Neutral Milk Hotel will face off against the winner of Let it Be and Pet Sounds in the Final Four
*My 11th grade English teacher would be so proud of my refusal to bend the rules of grammar.