It's a Wonderful Life
our score: 4.5 out of 5.0
release of his third full-length album, Sparklehorse leader Mark
Linkous has created a fulfilling voyage into the lonely psyche.
It's a Wonderful Life, follows the trends set forth by
contemporaries Mercury Rev and Grandaddy, as well as delves into
a deep-seated love-of-Neil Young vibe.
On the album
opening title track Linkous offers a falsetto whispering "I'm
a bog of poison frogs / It's a wonderful life" over a meandering
loop of bells and guitar and a shuffling drum beat - giving a
sense of satisfaction with being. The album may sound depressing,
but Linkous makes certain to point out from the start that it
is anything but.
artists ranging from rock-goddess PJ Harvey to Cardigans vocalist
Nina Persson to the one and only Tom Waits, It's a Wonderful
Life exhibits a level of depth not before experienced with
Sparklehorse. Harvey's edgy guitars and backing vocals on "Piano
Fire" offer up one of the album's few straight-up rockers,
while her work on the Bacharach-esque piano-laden "Eyepennies"
brings an essential fullness to the vocals and Persson's
harmonizing vocals invoke the introspection of the hushed "Apple
Bed." Unfortunately, the album's lowest point lies in the
misplaced "Dog Door," the one song to prominently feature
reaches its highest points when Linkous is at his most honest
levels, most notably "Gold Day," "More Yellow Birds"
and "Babies on the Sun." Still, even when the album
seems to be at it's low points one realizes that these lows are
It's a Wonderful
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