Back in the days before every indie band took a three-month-long hiatus to the nearest rural shack for album inspiration—there was Sparklehorse, and his 2001 hit ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ A little bit folk, a little bit electronic- the music of Virginian-born Mark Linous never really hit off commercially; despite this he toured with Radiohead in 1996 and gained the respect and appreciation of the music elite and mag industry (with write-ups in the Rolling Stone and NME).
A fatal drug overdose was said to have inspired this track- but it’s also about seeking hope in the world and both embracing and overcoming depression, loneliness and alienation. There’s some great animal imagery and cryptic lyrics: “I’m full of bees who died at sea” – take what you will. The solid waltz played on a kilter optigan (a sort of old organ) provides the foundations to a haunting, fragile melody- dotted with radio static and played through a crackling filter.
‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ is a good starting point to explore Sparklehorse as a band. Besides, we love rediscovering forgotten musical treasures. You may even recognise it from the Skins season 3 soundtrack.
Sadly Mark Linous killed himself on March 6, 2010- making the song’s optimism linger. This track truly is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, wrapped in an enigma.
Published on Purple Sneakers.