Sparklehorses's Mark Linkous seemed set for stardom back in 1996 when he unveiled his dynamic new band and a clutch of memorably anthemic songs. Later that year, however, he suffered a major heart attack leading to a long period of insecurity and introspection. His new album, which he wrote and recorded almost single-handedly, is an ethereal yet compelling experience, with bitter vocals floating against a backdrop of eerie instruments such as optigan and magic genie organ. With sterling contributions from Tom Waits and Cardigan Nina Persson, It's A Wonderful Life is a strong contender for bedsit album of the year.