Finding myself on a bit of a spiral I went shopping in search of something… I wasn’t even sure what. Lost within my thoughts in downtown Toronto I stood in front of a rack of newly released CD’s without even remembering how my travels brought me there. The cover caught me first with its framed depiction of (to my eyes anyway) a bouquet of blood and fire mixed roses.
Taking it home I didn’t know what to expect but only two songs in and I was being treated to an album that worked more on an emotional level than anything new I had heard in a long time. Tears trickled, but I was unsure if they were joy, sadness or simple reaction to connecting to this damn record. I’m still not sure 14 years later, but Mark Linkous suddenly seemed like my best musical friend as I placed headphones on my ears and escaped life’s trials in the few minutes he was speaking to me.
On a palette of electronics, soft piano and fuzzy electric guitars, Sparklehorse created images of gothic wonder and horror in broad strokes. “Gold Day” is sweeping in atmosphere with lyrics twisting between beauty and despair as Linkous nearly whispers “it’s time for you to rise / and evaporate in the sun / sometimes it can way a ton” before breaking into a chorus of “may all your days be gold my child.” Oddly, this is typical of how Linkous would operate; creating worlds as lush and colourful as anything Lewis Carol could conjure, and then he slowly starts breaking twigs.
If I was picking my favourite records since 2000, It’s A Wonderful Life would definitely be in the top five.
In 2001, I wasn’t collecting vinyl, and have missed out on what would have been a great wax release. New copies can still be found on the reseller market but prices range from a $100 to over $250.
A 180 gram vinyl edition with gatefold cover was put out in 2012 by Plain Recordings and can still be found new for around $30.
I really miss Mark Linkous…