If legal problems hadn’t prevented Dark Night Of The Soul from coming out in May 2009, it might have seemed like merely another in a long string of collaborations from Danger Mouse’s cooled-down sound-world—a more deliberately creepy variant of his work with Gnarls Barkley, Beck, and more recently, Broken Bells. (It did see a semi-release in 2009: A book of photos by director David Lynch was issued with a blank CD-R, and the tracks were widely leaked.) But with its official issue in mid-2010, Dark Night Of The Soul stands as a kind of memorial for Mark Linkous, a.k.a. Sparklehorse, who committed suicide this past March. Dark Night is a vocal showcase: Lynch, James Mercer of The Shins and Broken Bells, The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, Iggy Pop, and several more stamp the tracks with appropriately brooding vocals. Only a few really stick, and not always in a good way—see Black Francis’ cartoonish howl on “Angels’ Harp.” But “Grain Augury” has a woozy majesty that serves as a dual memorial—it’s sung by Vic Chesnutt, who also took his life earlier this year. And the title track, with none other than Lynch on vocals, is a genuinely spooky standout, with electric piano and a vocal run blurry beneath vinyl crackle. It’s an eerily appropriate closing word for an album whose history has been troubled in more ways than one.
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