Friday, February 24, 2012

Album Review: Sparklehorse - Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

Sparklehorse’s bewilderingly titled debut album is a real slow-burner.  Released in 1995, it introduces the late Mark Linkous’ weedy Neil Young style-croon.  The album varies between delicate, downbeat ballads (Homecoming Queen, Most Beautiful Widow In Town), midtempo Americana (Weird Sisters, Saturday, Heart of Darkness), anthemic rockers (Rainmaker, Hammering the Cramps, Someday I Will Treat You Good) and noise-outs (Tears On Fresh Fruit).
Weird Sisters has an addictive melody, while Spirit Ditch has a beautiful, damaged feel to it as Linkous croaks lines like “I want my records back” and “woke up in a burned out basement” over an achingly pretty guitar part.  The mood is smashed to bits by the abrasive guitars of next track Tears On Fresh Fruit.
There are a couple of slightly annoying, noisy short interludes (850 Double Pumper Holley, Little Bastard Choo Choo, Ballad of a Cold Lost Marble) which disrupt the flow and seem a little pointless.  Better are the lengthy Cow features a nice banjo and accordion which evolves into an pleasant, electric workout, and later penultimate track Sad & Beautiful World aims and succeeds at capturing the effect Primal Scream were aiming for with the ballads on Give Out But Don't Give Up.
It’s hard to explain the charm of this album, it just really… works.