This album always makes me feel like I've eaten too many wine gums. There's a wooziness about it that is intoxicating, a sugar rush of melancholy. Moogs wobble in harmony with lush swelling strings; sweet melodies are tempered with lo-fi intrusions that curiously compliment the luxurious production. Maybe there were better songs on its excellent predecessor 'Good Morning Spider', but there's a coherence to 'It's a Wonderful Life' that makes it compulsive listening; once committed you have to see it through; right to the end. Like lullabies lifted from a David Lynch film this is a set of songs that never ceases to unnerve and move me; particularly in the wake of Mark Linkous's sad demise.
I've heard it described as "songs of experience and innocence" which is pretty much confirmed by the quote at the top of the page. There's a great line in Robert Maxwell's wonderful novella 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' where the narrator describes his traumatized family abiding 'patiently and without hope'. That seems an apt epitaph for a broken and brokenhearted man who calmly chose to end his life by shooting himself in the heart. Linkous left behind a great body of work, the gem of that fine legacy, the tender and oddly life affirming 'It's a Wonderful Life'.