Sparklehorse was a Lo-fi Alternative Rock / Country band from America, led by Mark Linkous (note that when we say "led", we mean "the one consistent member of the band" - all his albums featured appearances from other musicians in various roles, but none stayed on for good). A man of many talents, he was the lead singer, songwriter, and played a great variety of instruments, including guitar, piano, harmonium and drum machine.
Sparklehorse released their first album, the mouthful Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, in 1995 to largely good reception (with Sparklehorse remaining critical darlings ever since). The album, recorded with help from the band Cracker, set the band's melancholic tone, but was followed shortly afterwards by the near-death of Mark Linkous due to a drug overdose. His recovery in St Mary's hospital left him without the use of his legs for 6 months - even afterwards, they never quite regained their original strength. Despite these setbacks, in 1998 Sparklehorse released their second album, Good Morning Spider, with several songs inspired by Linkous' brush with death (though he claimed most of them had actually been written before this).
2001 saw the release of the far more collaborative album, It's a Wonderful Life, reported to be Linkous' first substance-free production (as well as his most "normal" to date, with a notable lack of unsettling songs less than a minute long). Following this was a 5-year hiatus, at the end of which Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain was released (the title track being his longest song, at a whopping 10:35 minutes, though it was a relaxing, melancholy track true to the band's usual style). The band's last album was Dark Night of the Soul - featuring appearances from many different guest vocalists - originally recorded (and released on the internet) in 2009, but only officially released in 2010 due to legal difficulties. Sadly, 2010 was also the year of Mark Linkous' suicide - he shot himself in the heart, without leaving a suicide note. As such, Dark Night of the Soul was dedicated to his memory.
This band and their music provide examples of:
- Ambient: Several examples in their repertoire, such as Good Morning Spider's title track.
- Alternative Rock
- Author Appeal: Believe it or not, horses get numerous mentions in Sparklehorse's lyrics, among other things like oceans, dogs, pianos, ghosts, and birds.
- Ballad of X: Of a Cold Lost Marble, in fact.
- Broken Record: 850 Double Pumper Holley, 850 Double Pumper Holley, 850 Double Pumper Holley...
- Call-Back: One of the songs in Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (Cow, to be precise) mentions the "Queen of Nails". In It's a Wonderful Life, there is an entire song called "King of Nails".
- Concept Album: Pain (physical or otherwise) is a frequently recurring theme in Dark Night of the Soul.
- Dream Pop
- Eldritch Abomination: According to See the Light, "The Golden Crows" are this.
- Epic Rocking / Miniscule Rocking: Sparklehorse's songs run the gamut, from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. Oddly, the trend seems to be that the longer a song is, the more relaxing and quiet it'll be.
- Eye Scream: A theme quite frequently found in the band's lyrics.
- Fading into the Next Song: Cruel Sun -> All Night Home. Also, Cow -> Little Bastard Choo Choo.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: Sunshine.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: Grim Augury, fittingly.
- Foreshadowing: The song Rainmaker brings up a "Spirit Ditch" - the next song is called "Spirit Ditch".
- Hidden Track: Morning Hollow, on It's a Wonderful Life.
- I Am the Band: The first two albums were written and recorded almost entirely by Mark Linkous himself, on his Virginia farm.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: A few of their albums, most notably Good Morning Spider.◊ Also, Dark Night of the Soul◊.
- Mood Whiplash: Frequently happens on their albums. Example: Good Morning Spider's first track is the punky, explicit Pig. The second track is the dark, melancholy Painbirds.
- New Sound Album: It's a Wonderful Life, to an extent.
- Non-Appearing Title
- Perishing Alt-Rock Voice
- Revolving Door Band
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Linkous' near-death due to drugs.
- Shout-Out: To R.E.M., from the looks of things, in Pain:Justice, religion, and success are fakeAnd the shiny people stinkThe owls have been talking to meBut I'm sworn to secrecyI woke up in a burned-out basement
Everything that's made is made to decay
- As well as Daniel Johnston in "Someday I Will Treat You Good".
- Special Guest: It's A Wonderful Life has Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Vic Chesnutt and Dave Fridmann. Dark Night Of The Soul is entirely based on this, with guest spots from IggyPop, Suzanne Vega, Danger Mouse, David Lynch, Black Francis, The Flaming Lips...
- Word Salad Lyrics: Oh so much.
- in the silver morning hollowtrembling and getting oldsmelling burnt oil of heavenabout ten years, too big to hold