Friday, July 3, 2009

Dark Night of the Soul

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul
Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse

This project hasn't seen official release yet due to contractual issues. I don't find this entirely surprising; there are a lot of players here. Over the course of thirteen songs, we see guest spots by Wayne Coyne from Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys from Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle from Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas from The Strokes, Black Francis, Iggy Pop, James Mercer from The Shins, Nina Persson from The Cardigans and A Camp, Suzanna Vega, Vic Chesnutt, and director David Lynch. It's a disparate set, but they make it work.

It is a moody record, with a very apt title; there aren't a lot of tones here, with all the songs going for quiet, glitchy introspection. The ambiances have been well worked over, no question, as is typical of Danger Mouse. I'm a bit worried about him, though; he's done some great work with Damon Albarn, but it seems without such a strong personality to fight against him, he too easily falls into this sixties-pastiche. Consider that this doesn't sound so different from Beck's last album, Modern Guilt, also produced by Mr. Mouse, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

The songwriting isn't exceptional, but it does make excellent use of all the guests. They weren't brought in purely for the novelty of having some friends in to make a record. That's probably this album's saving grace; it's not an objectionable occurance, it's worth listening to on a quiet night when you don't have much else to do, and it has fleeting moments of greatness, but it's less than the sum of its considerable parts.

Grade: C

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