Over the course of three gloriously dream-dazzled albums, of which the irony-free titled It's A Wonderful Life is the quietest, sleekest and--despite a relative lack of pop hooks--probably Sparklehorse's best. Mark Linkous, the boy with a toy box full of ramshackle instruments, has sweetly, solemnly staked his affinity to the entire living universe. Bees, trees, birds, frogs, rabbits, ghosts, roosters, monkeys, babies, snakes, apples, ponies, dogs, the lot; wrapped in blissful, non-species-ist wonder that would do a Buddhist proud. The added extra here--besides a steel-drenched "Comfort Me", the old-time wheeze of "Babies on the Sun", Tom Waits' gleeful fee-fi-fo-fum through "Dog Door" and PJ Harvey's metallic whip of a voice electrifying "Piano Fire" and "Eyepennies"--is the realisation why it's been so long since you heard songs of such innocence and experience. And it hits you somewhere around the line "A child who spoke in tongues and smelled like the sun": William Blake is alive and well and making music in West Virginia. --Jennifer Nine
Third full-length album from Mark Linkous, featuring more of his trademark bittersweet alt-country rock. The album includes guest appearances by Tom Waits, the Cardigans' Nina Persson, and PJ Harvey. It was produced by Harvey's long-time collaborator John Parish and Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev producer Dave Fridmann.