My memory of Good Morning Spider, the only Sparklehorse record I’ve heard before this one, is that it was pretty harrowing stuff. That makes sense, given that part of it is about an overdose. But I guess I was expecting something similar. And though this record definitely has a “sad” vibe at times, I don’t feel like it’s quite as harrowing. (You should note that it was a couple years ago that I head that record, though.)
Linkous has written a pretty good set of songs for his band’s debut. I suspect that at least some of that has to do with some of the songs being rather old. One of the positive things that happens with debut albums is that there is sometimes an excess of material. And he and Lowery seem to have mostly found the better stuff to include.
Though considered lo fi by some, this record sounds pretty good for a home recording. Linkous’ voice is often the most distorted thing on the songs. The samples and found sounds add to the bedroom vibe, but it’s really pretty clear sounding a lot of the time. And Linkous manages to keep a fairly similar musical vibe from track to track. It doesn’t feel like everything which stuck on the wall was included, is what I’m trying to say.
But there is filler, as there nearly always is with a ’90s bedroom indie rock record. The filler is part of the charm, I know, but it’s something I rarely love. In this case, I’d say the strong songs are enough to make up for the answering machine messages and the like.
All in all, this is more focused, and less deliberately alienating, than a lot of similar debuts by similar bands from the ’90s. It’s almost as if he learned lessons from some of the people who came before.