Sparklehorse ¦ Bird Machine

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"Some of it was done. Some of it was close. And anything that we added was intended to enhance it, not to embellish it. We wanted to bring out what was there."

—Matt Linkous on finishing the music of his brother Mark for Bird Machine[2]

Bird Machine is the posthumous fifth studio album from American indie rock band Sparklehorse, released on September 8, 2023 by Anti-. The album has received positive reviews from critics.

Recording and release

The music for Bird Machine was recorded by Sparklehorse prior to Mark Linkous' 2010 suicide. Linkous' brother Matt oversaw unreleased music and found the track "It Will Never Stop" in 2022.[3] In June 2023, the full album was announced, made up of older recordings, with additions made by Matt and Melissa Linkous,[4] based on the kinds of musical contributions they had made to prior Sparklehorse recordings.[5] The initial tracks were recorded with Steve Albini and were intended to be the band's fifth studio album prior to collaborating with Danger Mouse for Dark Night of the Soul.[6] "Scull of Lucia" was previewed on July 11.[7]


According to the review aggregator Metacritic, Bird Machine received "universal acclaim" based on a weighted average score of 86 out of 100 from 9 critic scores.[8] Editors at AllMusic rated this album 4.5 out of 5 stars, with critic Heather Phares writing that "the chance to connect with his music for the first time once again is something like a miracle" and continued that "listening to Bird Machine is a heartbreaking, uplifting experience—in other words, a perfect tribute to the way he moved so many people".[9] Bill Pearis of BrooklynVegan shortlisted Bird Machine as one of the best albums of September 2023, calling it "an instant classic we had to wait 13 years to hear".[10] In Glide Magazine, Ryan Dillon stated that "Bird Machine guides you through exactly why Sparklehorse will never be forgotten, intensely dark emotions are put to free-falling melodies and set to the distorted textures that make a record undeniably Linkous" and the release puts "a stunningly beautiful bow on the Sparklehorse discography while being so distinctive and magically stirring, they stand in a spotlight all to their own".[11] Writing for The Line of Best Fit, John Amen scored the album 8 out of 10, commenting that "Linkous's lyrical dexterity, emotional depth, and gift for dark-pop hooks are once again on glorious display. He concluded that "Bird Machine is a resonant final word from an enormously talented singer-songwriter".[12] Writing for Louder Than War, Tim Cooper characterized the release as "a familiar blend of the fragile and the furious" that is more than outtakes and unfinished work that is "unmistakably a Sparklehorse album from the moment it begins" that is "packed with hummable tunes".[1] Writing for musicOMH, John Murphy rated this release 4 out of 5 stars, stating that it "sounds like a fully fledged album" and "a record of off-kilter alt-rock with the unique voice of [Mark] Linkous adding an added emotional edge, knowing as we do, that's he effectively singing from the grave".[13]

In The New Zealand Herald, critic Peter Baker shortlisted Bird Machine on music that readers needed to listen to that week and called it "an essential addition to [Mark Linkouss'] legacy".[14] Sam Sodomsky of Pitchfork Media rated this album a 7.6 out of 10, calling it "a bittersweet cocktail of beauty and torment" and noting how Mark Linkous could combine contradictory emotions in his music.[15] In The Skinny, Tony Inglis gave Bird Machine four out of five stars, stating that "rarely has a posthumous release felt so emotionally fitting, so lovingly rendered", continuing that Linkous' "oft-praised skill of managing to wrench childlike wonder from the depths of pain and self-flagellation runs across this set".[16] Sunnyvale of Sputnikmusic rated this album a 4.2 out of 5, calling it "a godsend" and "a comparatively straightforward set of tunes, wrapped into the most concise runtime ever for a Sparklehorse release".[17] In Uncut, Jason Anderson scored this album 4 out of 5 stars, writing that this release "demonstrates no diminishment of confidence" and that the work "strongly suggests [that Mark Linkous] remained the same restlessly inventive artist that he'd been" in his early career.[18] In Under the Radar, Ian Rushbury rated this album 7.5 out of 10, characterizing it as "a strong album and never sounds as if it's been pieced together posthumously".[19]

Editors at AllMusic included this on their list of favorite alternative and indie albums of 2023.[20] This was included in the 40 best independent albums of 2023 in BrooklynVegan's Indie Basement.[21] Andrew Dansby of The Houston Chronicle included this among the 10 best alternative albums of 2023.[22]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Mark Linkous, except where noted.

  1. "It Will Never Stop" – 1:50
  2. "Kind Ghosts" – 2:52
  3. "Evening Star Supercharger" – 3:46
  4. "O Child" – 4:20
  5. "Falling Down" – 3:34
  6. "I Fucked It Up" – 1:42
  7. "Hello Lord" – 4:08
  8. "Daddy's Gone" (Linkous, Brian Burton) – 2:49
  9. "Chaos of the Universe" – 3:58
  10. "Listening to the Higsons" (Robyn Hitchcock) – 3:01
  11. "Everybody's Gone to Sleep" – 4:31
  12. "The Scull of Lucia" – 4:11
  13. "Blue" – 1:24
  14. "Stay" – 1:41



  • Paul Dillon – bass (3, 5, 6, 8–12, 14), guitar (11)
  • Mark Linkous – vocals (tracks 1–12, 14), guitar (1–3, 5–14), keyboards (1, 2, 9), drums (1, 2), bass (1), Speak & Spell (2), SK-1 (3, 14), all instruments (4), "pling plong" (12)
  • Matt Linkous – guitar (3, 5, 9, 11, 12), table beat (7), drum machine (12)
  • Spencer Linkous – vocals (3, 5, 8, 9, 11), answering machine (4)
  • Jason Lytle – vocals (11, 12)
  • Stephen McCarthy – toy piano (3, 8), pedal steel (5, 7, 14), guitar (8)
  • Scott Minor – electronics (2, 12), Mellotron (3, 5, 11), keyboards (6, 9, 14); Reaktor, arpeggiator (8); omnichord (10)
  • Melissa Moore Linkous – vocals (3, 8, 9, 11), violin (3)
  • Andrea Morici – piano (3, 5, 8, 11, 12), Wurlitzer (6, 9, 10, 14), vocals (10), celeste (12)
  • Steven Nistor – drums (3, 5, 6, 8–11), Wurlitzer (8), Mellotron (12), piano (14)
  • Alan Weatherhead – guitar (1, 6, 9), Mellotron (2, 3, 5, 8, 11), Wurlitzer (3), ARP (5), bass (7), keyboards (7, 9), baritone guitar (7, 8); Optigan, harmonium (12)

Other personnel

  • Steve Albini – recording (3, 5, 6, 8–12, 14)
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Steve Fallone – mastering
  • Joel Hamilton – mixing
  • Mark Linkous – recording (1, 2, 4, 7, 13), artwork
  • Matt Linkous – production (all tracks), recording (3, 5, 6, 8–12, 14)
  • Melissa Moore Linkous – production
  • Alan Weatherhead – production (all tracks), recording (3, 5, 6, 8–12, 14)

Chart performance

Chart performance for Bird Machine
ChartPeakDuration (weeks)
French Albums (SNEP)[23]1731

See also


  1. ^ a b Cooper, Tim (September 6, 2023). "Sparklehores: Bird Machine". Album Reviews. Louder Than War. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  2. ^ Carnwath, Ally (September 3, 2023). "Mark Linkous's final Sparklehorse album: words of love and beauty from beyond the grave". The Guardian. Retrieved September 5, 2023.
  3. ^ Rettig, James (December 6, 2022). "Hear Sparklehorse's Previously Unreleased "It Will Never Stop"". New Music. Stereogum. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  4. ^ Breihan, Tom (June 13, 2023). "Posthumous Sparklehorse Album Bird Machine Announced". New Music. Stereogum. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  5. ^ Crane, Larry (September–October 2023). "Sparklehorse's Bird Machine: The Legacy of Mark Linkous". Interviews. Tape Op. No. 157. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  6. ^ Bloom, Madison (June 13, 2023). "New Posthumous Sparklehorse Album Announced". News. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  7. ^ Ramkumar, Kat (July 11, 2023). "Sparklehorse – Listen to the Previously Unreleased Song "The Scull of Lucia" (Feat. Jason Lytle)". News. Under the Radar. ISSN 1553-2305. Retrieved July 11, 2023.
  8. ^ "Bird Machine by Sparklehorse Reviews and Tracks – Metacritic". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. n.d. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  9. ^ Phares, Heather (n.d.). "Sparklehorse – Bird Machine". AllMusic. RhythmOne. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  10. ^ Pearis, Bill (October 2, 2023). "Indie Basement: Best Songs & Albums of September 2023". Indie Basement. BrooklynVegan. Retrieved October 9, 2023.
  11. ^ Dillon, Ryan (September 7, 2023). "Sparklehorse Remain Influential and Impactful With Posthumous 'Bird Machine'". Album Reviews. Glide Magazine. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  12. ^ Amen, John (September 8, 2023). "Sparklehorse: Bird Machine Review – talents return once more | Indie". Albums. The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  13. ^ Murphy, John (September 8, 2023). "Sparklehorse – Bird Machine". Album Reviews. musicOMH. Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  14. ^ Baker, Peter (September 15, 2023). "What We're Listening To: Mitski's Haunting, Celebratory New Album & Other Things You Need To Hear". Culture. The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  15. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (September 14, 2023). "Sparklehorse: Bird Machine". Albums. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  16. ^ Inglis, Tony (September 7, 2023). "Sparklehores – Bird Machine". Arts & Entertainment / Music / Reviews. The Skinny. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  17. ^ Sunnyvale (September 5, 2023). "Sparklehores – Bird Machine". Reviews. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  18. ^ Anderson, Jason (September 15, 2023). "Sparklehorse – Bird Machine". Reviews > Album. Uncut. ISSN 1368-0722. Retrieved September 15, 2023.
  19. ^ Rushbury, Ian (October 31, 2023). "Sparklehorse: Bird Machine (ANTI-)". Reviews. Under the Radar. ISSN 1553-2305. Retrieved November 1, 2023.
  20. ^ "Favorite Alternative & Indie Albums". AllMusic. RhythmOne. n.d. Retrieved December 14, 2023.
  21. ^ Pearis, Bill (December 21, 2023). "Indie Basement: Top 40 Albums of 2023". Indie Basement. Retrieved December 21, 2023.
  22. ^ "Andrew Dansby picks his 10 best alternative albums of the year". Entertainment // Preview // Music. The Houston Chronicle. December 26, 2023. ISSN 1074-7109. OCLC 30348909. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  23. ^ "Top Albums (Week 37, 2023)". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved September 18, 2023.

External links


Veröffentlichungen von Sparklehorse die im OTRS erhältlich sind/waren:

Bird Machine

Sparklehorse auf Wikipedia (oder andere Quellen):

Sparklehorse was an American indie rock band from Richmond, Virginia, led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous. It was active from 1995 until Linkous's 2010 death. Before forming Sparklehorse, Linkous fronted local bands Johnson Family and Salt Chunk Mary. Only one song, "Someday I Will Treat You Good", survived from these earlier bands to be played by Sparklehorse. Linkous said he chose the name Sparklehorse because the two words sounded good together and could be a loose metaphor for a motorcycle. At its inception, members of Sparklehorse included Paul Watson (banjo, cornet, lap steel and electric guitar), Scott Minor (drums, chord organ, banjo), Johnny Hott (Wurlitzer organ, percussion, backing vocals), and Scot Fitzsimmons (standup bass).


Sparklehorse's first album, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (1995), produced by Cracker frontman David Lowery (credited as "David Charles" on the record), was a modest college radio success. In 1996, while touring Europe with Radiohead shortly after the album's release, Linkous consumed a combination of anti-depressants, valium, alcohol, and heroin in a London hotel room.[6] Unconscious and with his legs pinned beneath him for almost 14 hours, the resulting potassium build-up caused his heart to stop for several minutes after his body was lifted up. The ensuing surgery almost caused him to lose the use of both legs and, as a result, he needed to use a wheelchair for six months and required dialysis for acute kidney failure.

Good Morning Spider (1998) was recorded following this incident. Critics have conjectured that Linkous's brush with death inspired the album's somber tone, but Linkous said that much of GMS had already been written.[citation needed] One song that resulted from his affliction is "St. Mary", which is dedicated to the nurses at the eponymous hospital in Paddington where Linkous recuperated.

In 1999 Sparklehorse performed at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.[7] 2001 saw the release of It's a Wonderful Life, featuring appearances by Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Bob Rupe, Nina Persson and Dave Fridmann.[8] Much of Vivadixie... and Spider were recorded solely by Linkous on his Virginia farm, but the new album was more collaborative. Linkous expressed his satisfaction with the overall sound of It's a Wonderful Life, which was engineered by Joel Hamilton, while also saying he would have preferred to include more experimental and instrumental material.[9]

On September 25, 2006, Sparklehorse released its fourth album, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, collaborating with Danger Mouse, Christian Fennesz, and Steven Drozd. This album featured the radio release "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" and a remastered version of "Shade And Honey", which Linkous originally wrote for Alessandro Nivola to sing in the 2003 movie Laurel Canyon, as well as a virtually unchanged re-release of "Morning Hollow", the bonus track on It's a Wonderful Life.

In 2008, Sparklehorse recorded a cover of "Jack's Obsession" from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas for the official compilation album Nightmare Revisited.

In 2009, Sparklehorse teamed up with Danger Mouse and David Lynch on the project Dark Night of the Soul. Corliss et al. (2010) described Dark Night of the Soul as “spooky, beautiful, (and)... bittersweet...considering Linkous’ untimely death.”[10]

In 2009, Linkous collaborated with electronic ambient-music artist Christian Fennesz to create In the Fishtank 15, a wafting EP of experimentation and dreamy atmospherics. In October 2009, Linkous performed with Fennesz during a European tour.

Linkous died by suicide in Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 6, 2010.[11]


Studio albums




  • "Spirit Ditch" / "Waiting for Nothing" (7", 1995, US)
  • "Hammering the Cramps" / "Too Late" (7", 1995, US)
  • "Someday I Will Treat You Good" / "Rainmaker" (7", February 1996, US Modern Rock No. 35)
  • "Someday I Will Treat You Good" / "London" / "In The Dry" (7" & CD, February 1996, UK)
  • "Hammering the Cramps" / "Spirit Ditch" / "Dead Opera Star" / "Midget In A Junkyard" (7" & CD, April 1996)
  • "Rainmaker" / "I Almost Lost My Mind" / "Intermission" / "Homecoming Queen (Live On KCRW)" / "Gasoline Horseys (Live On KCRW)" (7" & 2x CDs, August 1996, UK No. 61)
  • "Come On In" / "Blind Rabbit Choir" (7", February 1998, US)
  • "Maria's Little Elbows" / "Painbirds" / "Wish You Were Here" (with Thom Yorke) (Pink Floyd cover) / "Haint" (CD, July 1998)
  • "Sick of Goodbyes" / "Good Morning Spider (BBC Radio 1 Evening Session)" (7", October 1998, UK No. 57)
  • "Sick of Goodbyes" / "Happy Place" / "Happy Pig (BBC Radio 1 Evening Session)" / "Shot A Dog" / "Gasoline Horseys (Live)" (2x CDs, October 1998, UK No. 57)
  • "Gold Day" / "Heloise" / "Devil's New" / Maxine" (CD, July 2001)
  • "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" / "Ghost In The Sky" / "Knives of Summertime" (CD, 4 September 2006)
  • "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" / "Galveston" (Jimmy Webb/Glen Campbell cover) (7", 4 September 2006)
  • "Ghost in the Sky" / "Marigold" (7", 11 September 2006)
  • "Knives of Summertime" / "Caroline" (7", 18 September 2006, US)

Various artists compilations

  • "Heart of Darkness" on "Dear Charlottesville" (1995)
  • "Heart of Darkness" on "Cowpunks" (1996)
  • "Sad & Beautiful World" on "Boys Soundtrack" (1996)
  • "West of Rome" (Vic Chesnutt cover) on "Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation" (1996)
  • "Hammering The Cramps" on "Chicago Cab Soundtrack" (1996)
  • "Hammering The Cramps" on "Mmmmm..." (Q Magazine CD issue Q118) (July 1996)
  • "Wish You Were Here" (with Thom Yorke) (Pink Floyd cover) on "chEMIstry: A Hundred Years Of EMI" (VOX Magazine CD) (November 1997)
  • "Maria's Little Elbows" on "The MOJO Machine Turns You On – Let MOJO Take You There" (MOJO Magazine Subscriptions CD Volume 6) (July 1998)
  • "Hey Joe" on "Unconditionally Guaranteed" (UNCUT Magazine CD issue UG-1 7) (January 1999)
  • "Sad & Beautiful World" on "Dreamworld: Essential Late Night Listening" (2000)
  • "Happy Pig" on "Unconditionally Guaranteed 2000.8" (UNCUT Magazine CD issue UG-21 27) (September 2000)
  • "Galveston" (Jimmy Webb/Glen Campbell cover) on "New Sounds Of The Old West Volume Three" (2001)
  • "Shade And Honey" on "Devil In The Woods Magazine 3.3" (2001)
  • "Little Fat Baby" on "19-Track Guide To The Month's Best Music" (UNCUT Magazine CD issue UG-32 38) (August 2001)
  • "It's A Wonderful Life" on "Laurel Canyon Soundtrack" (2003)
  • "Go" (with The Flaming Lips) (Daniel Johnston cover) on "The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered" (2004)
  • "Dark As A Dungeon" (Merle Travis/Johnny Cash cover) on "Cash Covered – Tribute To Johnny Cash" (MOJO Magazine CD issue 132) (November 2004)
  • "Wish You Were Here" (with Thom Yorke) (Pink Floyd cover) on "Lords of Dogtown: Music from the Motion Picture" (2005)
  • "Painbirds" on "Across The Great Divide: Music Inspired By The Band" (UNCUT Magazine CD issue 2005-04) (April 2005)
  • "Shade And Honey" on "The Playlist / October 2006" (UNCUT Magazine CD issue 2006–10) (October 2006)
  • "Shade And Honey" on "Love Will Tear You Apart – Tracks Of Hurt, Pain & Despair" (MOJO Magazine CD issue 159) (February 2007)
  • "Jack's Obsession" (Danny Elfman cover) on "Nightmare Revisited" (2008)
  • "Dark Night Of The Soul" (with Dangermouse featuring David Lynch) on "NowHearThis!" (WORD Magazine CD issue 91) (September 2010)
  • "Listening To The Higsons" (Robyn Hitchcock cover) on "Now Playing - 12 Tracks Of The Month's Best Music" (UNCUT Magazine CD issue 2023-10) (October 2023)

Guest appearances on Cracker tracks


  • Southern Man: Sparklehorse (1998, VPRO, 50mins)[13]
  • This is Sparklehorse (2019, Seven & Seven, 90mins)[14]


In March 2020, Spin magazine wrote that Linkous was more respected by his peers, such as PJ Harvey, Nina Persson and Tom Waits, than recognized by the record-buying public.[15]


  1. ^ Ashare, Matt (November 1999). "Wheat". Spin. Vol. 15, no. 11. SPIN Media LLC. p. 80. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  2. ^ Morris, Chris (March 22, 1997). "Forward-Thinking Putumayo Switches To DNA". Billboard. Vol. 109, no. 12. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 73. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  3. ^ Heasman, Jon (November 16, 2002). "Newsline..." Billboard. No. 1. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 86. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  4. ^ Ayers, Michael D. (May 15, 2009). "Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse Album Release Scrapped". Billboard. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  5. ^ Kemp, Sam (August 31, 2021). "Thom Yorke's five greatest collaborations". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  6. ^ Kelley, Trevor. "Mark Linkous: It's a Wonderful Life". Harp. Archived from the original on October 31, 2006. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  7. ^ Burland, Chris (April 13, 1999). "Live Reviews – Sparklehorse/Varnaline". Chart Attack. Archived from the original on February 2, 2000. Retrieved February 28, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ Bento, Debbie (September 4, 2001). "CD REVIEWS: Bif Naked, System Of A Down, Zeke and many more". Chart Attack. Archived from the original on November 21, 2001. Retrieved February 28, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ Laurence, Alexander (March 6, 2010). "The portable-infinite: Sparklehorse 2002 interview (Mark Linkous RIP)". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  10. ^ Corliss, R.; Duerr, C.; Grossman, L.; Morrisson, T.; Zoglin, R. (2010). "Hitlist". Time. Vol. 176. p. 63.
  11. ^ Sisario, Ben (March 8, 2010). "Mark Linkous, Leader of Sparklehorse Band, Dies at 47". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 28, 2022.
  12. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 518. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  13. ^ "Een eigenzinnige Southerner die met het stadsleven niet zo veel op heeft" (in Dutch). VPRO. December 22, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  14. ^ "This is Sparklehorse". Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  15. ^ Shipley, Al (March 5, 2020). "Remembering Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous 10 Years Later". Spin. Retrieved April 17, 2020.

External links