I remember the first time I heard Sparklehorse. I was in high school and got this little compilation from the UK's now defunct VOX magazine. It had the single "Saturday" on it and once I heard it I was in love with the band. Since then they have had a few things come out here and there via Capitol in the States in addition to some press for 2001's It's A Wonderful Life, but sadly no real mainstream American action was ever seen.
Now, almost five years from their last effort, Sparklehorse is back with a brand new album titled Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain, slated to hit shops on September 26 via Astralwerks. The new album will have a slew of guests including Tom Waits, Steven Drodz (Flaming Lips), Danger Mouse and even producer Dave Fridmann, who happens to be one very busy dude.
Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly of A Mountain follows typical Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous) fanfare, chock full of detailed and meticulously crafted experimental folk rock with sad, dreamy choruses. On the beginning crackles of "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" the listener is prepped for the rest of the album; whispering vocals, fuzzed guitars, soaring strings and interesting bloops and bleeps. This song lays the pavement and sounds like something that Grandaddy would have strived to create if they were still alive and kicking. In a way it is almost reminiscent of a sunny tune by the Beatles.
The rest of the album only gets better as it progresses. Most of it also is in the vein of older works like Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot and Good Morning Spider. "Shade And Honey" is probably one of the most upbeat single tracks on the album, yet it still hints at an underbelly of sadness. It should be dually noted that although there are some pretty impressive collaborators, none of them stand out in a flashy way. As a matter of fact, they only enhance Linkous' vision, as opposed to stray away from it like so many guest collaborators can easily do.
"Morning Hollow," the record's ninth track, was actually a hidden track from It's A Wonderful Life, and features Linkous on the piano. Interestingly enough, that's not the only track that diehard Sparklehorse fans might find familiar. Several of them have floated around in various projects from movies to hidden tracks in the past, but that doesn't devalue them one bit. Actually instead it is nice to hear them in a proper setting and many fans would probably never even know the difference.
One of the best treats on this album is actually the last song, which is also has the same title of "Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain." Clocking in at a little over ten minutes, this instrumental track conjures up mixed emotions, part beauty and part desperation, and would be a perfect backdrop for a film's ending credits. It's amazing how something so sad can sound so gorgeous.
It has been a long time since we have heard from Sparklehorse, but after listening to his new LP, it is easy to see that some things are well worth the wait.
"Don't Take My Sunshine Away"
"Shade And Honey"