CD review: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul

The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne opens the album with his high and delicate croon in “Revenge,” a slow and forlorn key-driven number about betrayal and the desire to act on it. The ambling “Jaykub” is an alt-country ode to a lonely, insecure man with acoustic guitar, swells of organ, and the angelic sweet vocals of former Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle, who also sings the dead end love ballad, “Everytime I’m With You.” Julian Casablancas of The Strokes brings the sexy grooves with “Little Girl,” musing on a twisted little girl to a bumpin’ funkin’ rock beat; Iggy Pop does tongue-in-cheeky cynical punk, singing deeply and doomfully of “Pain.” The Shins’ James Mercer sets his wholesome fresh vocals against the near-harsh electro fizz bleeptasm of “Insane Lullaby.” And David Lynch adds his thin yet striking vocals to the electro odyssey of lost love, “Stars Eyes (I Can’t Catch It),” as well as to the creepy title track and the album’s scratchy laptop-jazz finale, “Dark Night of the Soul.”

Thoughtful and gorgeous and imbued with a surreal sort of richness, Dark Night touches on shadowy subjects while still offering moments of poignancy and humor that draw you in and compel you to pay attention.


My review of this album originally ran in June of 2009 on Tampa Calling, when Dark Night Of The Soul saw it’s unofficial (free) digital release online due to a then-dispute with EMI. The heavy negotiations regarding its release came to a recent close (likely because of the death of Sparklehorse) and the album was officially dropped by Capitol this week. And yes, it’s just as good as it was when it originally “came out” last year, in case you were wondering… Here's the aforementioned review re-posted for your reading pleasure; to listen to the album in full, check out NPR Music’s First Listen page.

From the first reports of a new project by artist/producer Danger Mouse and singer/multi-instrumentalist Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous), to the freaky 16-second video revealing filmmaker David Lynch’s hand in its artistic direction, to its Internet leak after the dispute with EMI turned into a permanently unresolved issue, Dark Night of the Soul has been generating a shadow-shrouded hype that reflects the album’s own bewitching eeriness.

The 13 songs were written by DM and SH in collaboration with a noteworthy cast of nearly a dozen guests, who not only provided vocals but helped compose and produce their respective tracks. Each one retains its own individual feel, but all remain within Dark Night’s moody boundaries and feature DM’s skilled multi-layering production techniques.

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