Midway through Good Morning Spider, Sparklehorse's baffling but brilliant sophomore album, "Chaos Of The Galaxy/Happy Man" sums up the kitchen-sink approach for which the record and the band ought to be famous. The track opens with an odd instrumental interlude (one of several here), builds into a warped pop tune, dissipates into radio static, then bursts out into a catchy, fully formed pop-rock song. Bandleader Mark Linkous litters Good Morning Spider's 17 tracks with all sorts of scabrous rock ("Pig"), quirky pop ("Sick Of Goodbyes"), and plenty of twee-but-lovely ballads ("Sunshine," "Come On In," the gorgeous "Hundreds Of Sparrows"). Since the release of the Virginia band's 1995 debut, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, Linkous died briefly and spent months in a wheelchair. That may have something to do with how fearless his approach is here: Whether he's quoting Bible verses or tinkering with an Optigan (a relatively obscure Mattel toy keyboard from the '70s), Linkous never lets Good Morning Spider lapse into conventional songwriting or predictable arrangements. It's a great record, though spotty by design, and it gets better with each successive listen.
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