Published Oct 20, 2016Beloved indie icons Neutral Milk Hotel revived the group for a string of reunion tours a couple years back, but the band haven't actually released a full-length album since 1998's now classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Keeners on Reddit seem to think that could be changing soon, though.
Frontman Jeff Mangum has been selling original drawings on the band's website for years now, but the latest series to be made available online may be harbouring a hidden message. As Reddit users pointed out, The Book Cipher Sings series are described as "steganography" — the practice of concealing messages — and one particular fan who purchased a drawing notes that it the illustration contains the phrase "double album."
Elaborating on the cryptic artwork, user maldenfilms summarized the detective work, explaining: "There's a lot of 1st, 2nd, 3rd spheres. The '1st' and '2nd' have only 1 ring (single albums). The '3rd' one has two rings and the word 'double' appears a lot too."
The theory continues: "'Magicicada cassini' is a locust that appears every 17 years and is due to return in 2017 in Northern Georgia. Cassini Huygens is a spacecraft that was sent out about 18 years ago and is expected to end its mission in 2017."
User sedgwickian, however, piped up with sarcastic predictions of what the upcoming release might contain: "Five hours of nature recordings. Mostly cicadas buzzing in North Georgia fields. Some Pacific Coast sea lions low in the mix. Available as a Double CD or Four-LP special edition for $149.99. Limited to 1000 pressings. Hand Numbered with an invite to Jeff's private secret instagram page."
To be honest, that doesn't seem too far off the mark.
Neutral Milk Hotel have yet to issue any response to the rumours, but if the Reddit findings prove true, there may be some new music from Mangum and the band on the way next year.
Stay tuned for any official announcements. In the meantime, relive the title track from 1998's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea below. Don't worry, it's a little easier on the ears than that ska tribute from earlier this year.