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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2002
A truly haunting album, but one which everyone should own. The album itself defies strict definition, the songs ranging from acoustic melancholy (Spirit Ditch, Homecoming Queen, Most beautiful widow in town, Sad and Beautiful World) to powerfully upbeat, if rather harsh sounding, tunes (Hammering the Cramps, Rainmaker, Someday i will treat you good).
The songs are interrupted at intervals by occasional 'noise' tracks, offering an effective contrast and reminding us that this is no mere collection of songs.
Mark Linkous' lyrics are ambiguous, often tortured. ("sometimes days go speeding past/sometimes this one seems like the last", "I want my records back/and that motorcycle gas tank that i spray painted black")
Linkous' voice is filled with emotion and it is impossible not to be affected in some way by the strength of this album. Outstanding tracks: Homecoming Queen, Spirit Ditch, Heart of Darkness, Most Beautiful widow in town.
For anyone who is open to new styles or who wants to experience music with some genuine emotion behind it, buy this album along with other classics such as Jeff Buckley's 'Grace', Nick Drake's 'Pink Moon', and anything by the Red House Painters. Enjoy.
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on 5 September 2000
it is cinstantly surprising to me that Mark Linkous (aka 'sparklehorse') is neither big in england or the u.s.a. for his albums have,amidst an array of critical acclaim, single-handedly sculptured a new form of music that is so remarkably distinctive that it cannot be ignored. But in this dark day of 'bubblegum' music i guess it's not surprising that the greatest artist of all time has gotten lost. I personally love all forms of music but none have ever appeared so perfect to my ears as that of Sparklehorse. This first album surely affirms this with it's painfully accurate confrontations with life writing in riddle and metaphor to such a degree that Mark appears to be questioning the very use (or should one say OVER-USE) of words and lyricism. And well done too, as due to this his love songs or observations feel fresh and surreal conjuring up images of dark places in exotic surroundings that somehow croon with sensitivity and safety.
The songs Spirit Ditch and Sad And Beautiful World suit this mood perfectly, and although undeniably 'down' they manage to pull out strong waves of warmth and satisfaction. The occasional contrast of such equally superb tunes as the almost hit single Rainmaker and the thrashing Hammering The Cramps pull the rest of the album into sharp perspective and yet never once seem out of place. Make no mistake-there is not a single song on this masterpiece that isn't perfect.From the shambling acoustics to the rumbling static to the whiney sound of a voice pulling through a detuned radio. Eat this up ladies and gentlemen as there is precious little that can touch it.
Genius in every sense of the word.
( if you already know and love Sparklehorse, then try Grandaddy as a welcome stop-off point between albums... )
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on 25 March 2006
This is my favourite sparklehorse album. the tracks alternate between beautiful, melodic and soothing to more intense guitar pieces. if you don't love this band and this album then you're missing something. music to make you laugh, smile and cry all at once without the cheesey lyrical harmonies of Blunt and Rice.
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on 28 May 2012
HI there all, hope you are all well :)

Now I've been a music addict since I was five and I heard some "STREET SOUNDS - ELECTRO" LP's - Needless to say that since then my tastes have broadened exponentially so I love Everything from APHEX TWIN / PINK FLOYD / GIANT SAND / PAVEMENT / HEX STATIC / GRANDADDY / SUFJAN STEVENS / ORB / FOUR TET / THE SLITS / EFTERKLANG / TOM WAITS / PIXIES / KINGS OF CONVENIENCE (rubbish band name -LIFE CHANGING music of the tenderest unpretentious accoustica).... OH MAN !! this list could just go on and on indefinitely, so I'll spare you that and give you the reason I'm writing this...

Every few years (if your're lucky!) you find an album which is so special, so unique (without being silly) so spine chillingly,Heart brimming Alive with quiet TRUTH (in a world ineluctable SHOUTING/SCREAMING!!!! for attention for their own product, Half-lies and ME! ME! ME! music)

From start to finish you find yourself in a world all the creators SPARKLEHORSE (all Mark Linkous - every instrument) own - from the tenderest,plaintive dislocated acoustica of "(it's a)SAD AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD" - "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WIDOW IN TOWN" - "SATURDAY" all the way to a couple of Post-Punk/Grunge beauties "TEARS ON SOFT FRUIT" - "ONE DAY I'M GONNA TREAT YOU GOOD" with all kinds of odd sample-sections of toy trains and answer-machine messages, just to mess with your expectations.(along with the I N S A N E album title : " VIVADIXIESUBMARINETRANSMISSIONPLOT "

This ALBUM was recorded after an awful accident in which mark momentarily died and was left in a wheel chair for years after, you can feel that he's fallen back onto the music to deal with what he was going through
(although not ONE of the tracks has slightest hint of self-pity).

This is an ALBUM you simply should.not.miss. No Hyperbole, no Fan-boy Fawning-prattle - This is sincere beautific sound that will live with you ( Quick note : Also "QUIET IS THE NEW LOUD by THE KINGS OF CONVENIENCE" is of similar quality (Despite the atrocious Band name)

This was recorded in 1995 and mark went on to make some incredible,immortal music, but tragically in 2011 he took his own life - no one seems to know exactly why, things seemed to be going OK (on the surface) friends and family say,he spent YEARS fighting to get out of the wheelchair and DID IT !!! such willpower I admired so much so I cannot say in words how this hit me-like a kick to the guts-I was dazed for I don't know how long -I am a musician myself and there are so few musicians I actually RESPECT still alive on this planet but his sound will always be part of my heart...THE MUSIC REMAINS....F O R E V E R
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on 15 November 2013
I remember hearing this album at the time of it's release .It was unlike anything I had encountered previously and it made a strong impression upon me. Others who were raving about this album (and this group) at that time were none other than Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and also Radiohead .

The album combines gentle, melancholic acoustic sounds with sometimes savage, distorted guitar and also with tortured ,surreal lyrical content. These sonic considerations are played out on several extremely melodic / catchy tunes throughout the course of the album.

'Genius' is an over-used word these days and so, has become cheapened as a result within the minds of those who hear it mentioned .This particular album , however, is a rare example where the word 'genius' is probably justified when we consider the unique and brilliantly original inventiveness and musical vision that are evident here.
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on 28 February 2001
This 16 track debut album by Sparklehorse is full of all sorts of sounds. It has about 8 real tracks on and the rest are musical interludes which make up a remarkable album which gets better after every listen. My favourites 'Someday i will treat you good'(a punk classic}and 'Tears of fresh fruit' (another punk classic} are the meaning of music. Other acoustic numbers which are emotionally brilliant like 'Most beautiful widow in town' and the opener 'Homecoming queen. The album at first might seem like a plod along, but after a few listens........ You'll be hooked!
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on 12 February 2014
This was Sparklehorse's first and in my view best album and it came out of the blue too. There are stand out tracks, but really it's an album that needs playing from start to finish, everything seems to have been considered and the segways really work. The production is low-fi, but that is totally in keeping. I was lucky enough to see Mark play these songs a Reading and London and they we're truly beautiful. If you like Radiohead, Nick Cave, Tom waits etc. Seek this album out. A true gem.
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on 8 February 2013
Many have mourned the death of Mark Linkous and I join them. Love this album-especially Cow which will probably wear out from play.
Something communicates in the sound and lyrics.
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on 19 January 2015
I love this album and I am totally amazed that I missed out on hearing it years ago. Some of these songs you feel that you have heard them before in a tip of the tongue deja vu faded memory way. I was in Edinburgh, just browsing and heard the song 'Cow'. Simple lyrics, catchy and beautiful tune yet definitely original- not manufactured with a real rawness. Thankfully I used an App and identified the song. I picked up the album, got it home, played it and fell in love.There are tracks which stand out, but I love the whole thing including the conceptual, sound effects (then again I am a massive Cocorosie fan). 'Saturday' is a laid back and chilled song with an old and familiar feel. 'Most Beautiful Widow in Town' is heartfelt and raw. 'Someday I Will Treat You Good' is catchy, 'Cow' and 'Homecoming Queen' are both beautiful songs. The title looked like a real mouthful, until I had time to read it and then realised its- Viva Dixie Submarine Transmission Plot.
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on 31 March 2013
It's just an amazing record. A straw poll of friends usually finds this up in their personal top ten once they've remembered the full title. Great songs and a pivotal record to have in any collection.

My only criticism with this vinyl LP purchase would be that the artwork has been poorly reproduced (a common complaint - are they just scanning the CD cover?) and the hi-res MP3 voucher had long since expired.
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