Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse – Dark Night of the Soul

Dark Night of the Soul is the long awaited collaboration between Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse. Unreleased for some time due to contractual wrangles it was originally intended to accompany a book of visuals by David Lynch. The book was published, but the album itself was shelved and has now emerged some months later

The album is a star studded collection with contributions from a number of singers and musicians including the Flaming lips, Suzanne Vega, Iggy Pop and the aforementioned David Lynch. The project is somewhat overshadowed by the suicides of Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt between the recording and release of the album. As a long time fan of Sparklehorse it is hard for me to give the album a totally objective review in the light of his death.

The opening three tracks make the reviewer’s job easy however, being some of the bests songs released so far this year. ‘Revenge’ sets a perfect tone for the album, dark and beautiful. It is also the best thing that the Flaming Lips have contributed to for some years. ‘Just War’ manages to be downbeat and bouncy all at once, with Gruff Rhys turning in one of his best vocal performances. The last in the opening trio, ‘Jakob’, is another standout and shows that Jason Lyttle has more to offer than latter-day Grandaddy releases had me believe.

The album comes a little bit unstuck for the next trio of songs. Julian Casablancas’ effort ‘Little Girl’ is fine, but the Strokes style guitar doesn’t seem to fit the mood of the album very well. Frank Black’s ‘Angel’s Harp’ is better but manages to be a bit plodding. Iggy Pop’s ‘Pain’ is the album’s weakest link, his mannered vocals are grating and it is a fairly passionless performance.

Normal service is soon resumed however as David Lynch turns in his first effort, and proves to be the perfect vocal accompaniment to Sparklehorse, his voice fragile and bathed in effects.
The second half is pretty flawless, with Jason Lytle and Lynch both getting a second song and Suzanne Vega and Vic Chesnutt turning in excellent efforts. ‘Insane Lullaby’ features James Mercer, the sweet melody swamped in Linkous discord to beautiful effect. The song is now a part of the Broken Bells live set.

The standout song from the second half is Linkous one vocal contribution ‘Daddy’s Gone’. It is a beautiful Beatlesesque pop ballad with backing vocals by Nina Persson. It is melancholy and sweet and tragically may be the last new Linkous vocal contribution that ever sees the light of day.


By Dorian Rogers, July 2010


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *