Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - Dark Night of the Soul (4 stars)

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - Dark Night of the Soul

(EMI)

The recent suicide of Mark Linkous, aka. Sparklehorse imbues this posthumous release with oppressive waves of melancholy, but this often-inspired record – heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure – rises above such considerations to stand as a testament to the talent of all involved.

And it’s quite a roll call. Besides Danger Mouse on shared production and songwriting duties, we get appearances from The Flaming Lips, Julian Casablancas, Iggy Pop and many more, including, rather brilliantly, David Lynch.

The overall style is not a million miles away from Sparklehorse’s output – plaintive, fragile indie with a brilliant ear for nursery rhymes, a penchant for obfuscatory noises, and bursts of punkish mayhem.

Surprisingly for such a star-studded exercise, most have brought their A-game, something which is a credit to the orchestrators. ‘Revenge’ could easily sit among The Flaming Lips finest material, while Gruff Rhys’s ‘Just War’ is a wonderful slice of pastoral pop.

At times the ghost of Linkous hangs heavy over proceedings, most noticeably on the two contributions from female singers. Linkous’s duet with long-time collaborator Nina Persson of The Cardigans on ‘Daddy’s Gone’ is almost tear-jerkingly beautiful in the simplicity of its refrain, while Suzanne Vega has never sounded so close to the edge in ‘The Man Who Played God’.

As the closing title track wheezes and creaks to a ghostly close, complete with wobbly piano, vinyl scratches and Lynch’s crazed hillbilly vocals, it’s hard not to shed a tear for a huge talent lost. A fitting epitaph.

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