This is one of the innumerable indie records of the 1990s wherein a guy poses as a band, and he records a lot himself and has the odd person fill in. Like many of those records, it is stylistically all over the place.
Sometimes that stylistic diversity is an asset and sometimes it is annoying. I often find it annoying in the world of indie rock because, outside of the traditional recording studio process, so many artists and bands record songs where their reach exceeds their grasp (or the stylistic diversions are song fragments).
But though I’m not sure everything works here, and there definitely are fragments, Linkous has written a pretty thematically coherent set of lyrics, which unify the various diversions into different styles into some kind of semblance of a whole. (If you read up on Linkous, and learn what inspired this record, you will likely get sad.)
Another thing that helps is the relative lack of quirk. Yes, this is idiosyncratic music, but it lacks the kind of coy quirkiness that some indie music has, and I really appreciate it that.
This is one of those records which I suspects one enjoys more with time, as you get more and more close to the songs, and Linkous’ awful experiences. Anyway, it’s pretty good despite its stylistic inconsistency.
All tracks written by Mark Linkous, except as noted.
- “Pig” 2:22
- “Painbirds” 3:50
- “Saint Mary”
- “Good Morning Spider” (Linkous, Scott Minor, Sofia Mitchalitsianos) 1:09
- “Sick of Goodbyes” (Linkous, David Lowery) 3:32
- “Box of Stars (Part One)” 0:33
- “Sunshine” 4:59
- “Chaos of the Galaxy/Happy Man” 4:31
- “Hey, Joe” (Daniel Johnston) 3:04
- “Come on In” 3:43
- “Maria’s Little Elbows” 4:16
- “Cruel Sun” 2:25
- “All Night Home” 3:43
- “Ghost of His Smile” 3:11
- “Hundreds of Sparrows” 2:26
- “Box of Stars (Part Two)” 0:49
- “Junebug” 3:24
- Mark Linkous – vocals, guitar, bass, Wurlitzer, piano, optigan, sampler, vibraphone, harmonium, speak and spell, concertina, percussion, drum machine
- Sofia Mitchalitsianos – vocals, cello on tracks 2 to 4, 6, 7, 10 and 15 to 17
- Scott Minor – drums on tracks 1 and 15, harmonium on track 4
- Paul Watson – cornet on track 2
- Melissa Moore – violin on tracks 3, 6, 7, 10 and 16
- Johnny Hott – drums on track 8, piano on track 5
- Stephen McCarthy – pedal steel guitar on track 13
- David Lowery – guitar, drum machine on track 5, bass on track 8
- Vic Chesnutt – answering voice on track 7