Home Read Classic Album Review: Sparklehorse | It’s a Wonderful Life

Classic Album Review: Sparklehorse | It’s a Wonderful Life

Mark Linkous cooks up a poisoned little layer cake of despair on his eighth LP.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


From the title, you might think famously moody singer-songwriter Mark Linkous — who is, for all intents and purposes, Sparklehorse — had finally upgraded his anti-depressants for happy pills.

Not to worry; while It’s a Wonderful Life is a step up from his last disc Good Morning Spider, it’s a long way from Up With People. Once again sounding like it was recorded in a pawn-shop basement, Wonderful Life stacks rudimentary drumbeats, fuzzy-buzzy guitars and basses, woozy southern gothic grandeur, mournful roots-based melodies and Linkous’ sombre, fragile vocals into a poisoned little layer cake of despair. Still, with a style that falls somewhere between the ragged-ass garage-glory of Wilco, the jangled kookiness of Beck’s folky sides and the twisted troubadourism of Tom Waits (who guests on the lumpy scratchfest Dog Door), Linkous is always pretty damn wonderful. Whether he thinks so or not.