Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse: Dark Night of the Soul

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Artist: Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse

Title: Dark Night of the Soul
Release date: July 13
Label: Capitol

The "lost album" of Gnarls Barkley's Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse (a.k.a. the late singer-songwriter Mark Linkous) was finally officially released today after more than a year in legal limbo. A cast of thousands (including Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, Flaming Lips, Black Francis, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, and the singers from The Cardigans and Grandaddy) contribute to the often-haunting, sometimes transcendent, sometimes disjointed, but always compelling record.

This is Danger Mouse's second major collaborative release this year, and though I know very little about Gnarls Barkley, I feel like I should start following his career more closely. I thought Broken Bells (with one of the guys from The Shins) had a lot of strong moments and, now, there's Dark Night of the Soul. Seems Danger Mouse has a fairly exceptional taste level as a songwriter and producer, knowing how to reward listeners with subtlety and nuance while not burying his treasures too deeply.

Just as he did with The Shins' James Mercer (in Broken Bells), he seemed to have found a good foil in Linkous, too, even though Mercer and Linkous shared very little, stylistically and thematically. Linkous' Sparklehorse was a bleak, somber take on alt-country, with his fragile vocals not exactly hiding what seemed to be a fragile psyche. Linkous killed himself a few months ago, and one listen to Dark Night of the Soul gives you an indication of the darkness in which Linkous might have seen himself living in.

To add to the darkness, there's filmmaker David Lynch's participation in the project. A deluxe package of the CD supposedly includes a book of photos made by Lynch to coincide with the songs on Dark Night of the Soul. Lynch also sings on a couple of songs, including the final song, which is the title track. His vocal croak suits the unsettling tune.

The songs on the record dabble in several different sounds but each manages to maintain Sparklehorse's spare, American Gothic style as well as Danger Mouse's more modern touches. Thrown into the mix is some Flaming Lips-style psychedelia and a lot of spacey, damaged night-time music. As a whole, it's effective in conveying a late evening spent alone. Only a stretch of uptempo rock songs (sung by Casablancas, Iggy, and Black Francis) briefly kills the mood. Particularly, Iggy's song, "Pain," is the lowlight on the record.

If we're lucky, there will be more music to emerge from these sessions over the years. If not, at least we're left with another strong document by Sparklehorse to solidify his legacy as one of indie rock's better songwriters.

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Insane Lullaby (featuring James Mercer)

Best song: "Dark Night of the Soul (feat. David Lynch)." I also really like the two songs featuring female singers, "Daddy's Gone (feat. Nina Persson of The Cardigans)" and "The Man Who Played God (feat. Suzanne Vega)." These three make up three of the four last songs on the record, a rather dark final act.
Rotation: Medium-heavy
Deja vu: The should-be soundtrack to a David Lynch film.
I'd rather listen to: Big Star's Third (a.k.a. Sister Lovers)
Grade: B+

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment 

The "Nothing Not New" Archives

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.