Buzzing, staticky voices open the "Everything Is" EP, followed by a staticky, buzzing drum solo. Neutral Milk Hotel is in fine form here, with frontman Jeff Mangum providing his usual hallucinatory innocence to the offbeat songs and catchy, fuzzy music.
The "Everything Is" single is a solid, swirling song with a weird spoken intro. It's also insanely catchy by Neutral Milk Hotel's standards, enough to make you bounce in your seat. A slower, rippling song follows in "Snow Song Pt. 1" and the bouncy, unexceptional "Tuesday Night." Perhaps strangest and most striking is the eerie "Aunt Eggma Blowtorch" is basically an experimental collage of music and recorded sounds.
Neutral Milk Hotel is known for its low-fi sound, and that's definitely present here. It's rough and unpolished (anyone else hear Mangum coughing into the mike?), which makes its quality all the more striking. Mangum's high-pitched voice sounds full and solid in this outing, without the reedy quality he had in "Avery Island."
Mangum's sweetly psychedelic lyrics are as striking as ever ("As children draped in flowers form a chain/They sing a song with jelly jars and bird calls/As night falls into dust and it's day again"), and the fuzz guitar and rapid-fire percussion are pretty solid. And in "Aunt Eggma Blowtorch," things get even weirder. It was recorded when Mangum was only seventeen, and so this is just a bunch of sounds patched together. There's a food blender, vocal samples, somebody singing, his sister playing piano, accordian, and strange sonic waves.
It's hardly the best introduction for someone new to Neutral Milk Hotel, but "Everything Is" is a solid EP of this brilliantly oddball band's bits and pieces. People who love bucking musical conventions will adore this.