Thursday, October 4, 2012

Album Review: Sparklehorse – Good Morning Spider

Mark Linkous’ follow up to the curiously named Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot is a more difficult beast than its predecessor to get into.  Again it’s a multilayered album, but the layers are denser than before.
It’s a tricky listen because the slower songs lull you into a relaxed state but then you are jarred by a burst of noise on the following track each time.  It opens with the fairly heavy Pig before settling into a hazy, drifting mood with Painbirds and the gentle guitar pickings of Saint Mary.  The mood becomes murkier with the brief instrumental drone of the title track before the strident, upbeat rock song Sick of Goodbyes.
Sunshine is a gorgeous melody which is dragged out a little over 5 minutes which should work better but unfortunately it doesn’t quite succeed.  Chaos of the Galaxy/Happy Man should be a driving rock song but it the opening 2 minutes of the song is muffled, buried under layers of static and studio trickery.
After a nice cover of Daniel Johnston’s Hey Joe, Linkous darkens the mood with the gloomy, almost Cure-like melody of Come On In.  An example of the fine musicianship on this album is Maria’s Little Elbows, which has a gorgeous guitar led descending melody and a nice Velvet Underground referencing lyric: (“she says I’ve really come to hate my body”).
But it’s almost as if too much mellowness is hard for Mark Linkous to take.  Pounding melodic rocker Cruel Sun obliterates the mood, though the effect cleanses the palette nicely for the dreamy, drowsy All Night Home.
Despite the fact that the songs on this album are far less immediate than its predecessor, they resonate for longer, making it arguably a more rewarding listen.