Review: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul

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.

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.” David Lynch adds his thin yet striking vocals to the electro odyssey of lost love, “Stars Eyes (I Can’t Catch It),” and to the creepy title track and the album’s scratchy laptop-jazz finale, “Dark Night of the Soul.” And the Shins’ James Mercer sets his wholesome fresh vocals against the near-harsh electro fizz bleeptasm of “Insane Lullaby.”

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.

The album is only available as an illegal download (due to the aforementioned legal issues with EMI), though you can listen to it in its entirety via a stream hosted by NPR here. You can also find it online to download here. CL does not condone illegal downloading (even though that’s how I get the majority of the music I review). FYI, EMI has not yet issued cease and desist orders for this download, probably because doing so for the Grey Album caused it’s wide-spanning popularity.

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