A Danger Mouse Jawn Turns into a Yawn
In an interview with the New York Times, Danger Mouse claimed that he and Sparklehorse worked for two years on their recent album, Dark Night of the Soul. The result is a concept album for the digital age, the soundtrack to an imaginary movie. There’s a book of photos by David Lynch, published to coincide with the music’s release, but the accompanying CD was blank because of legal wrangling.
Make sense? No, it doesn’t, and after listening to this pretentious mess four times, one might wonder why two talented producer-musicians—Brian Burton and Mark Linkous—expended so much time and effort on the project.
These two studio wizards offered 13 instrumental tracks to 11 singers (a category charitably stretched to include David Lynch) and gave the vocalists free rein. Artists as diverse as Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals, Suzanne Vega and Black Francis all accepted the challenge. Who can blame them? Danger Mouse’s earlier collaboration with Cee-Lo Green served up “Crazy,” and no self-respecting popular artist would pass up the chance to repeat such a booty-shaking, radio-conquering hit.
Unfortunately, nothing on this release even approaches that magic. Studio gimmicks abound—burbles, smears, distortion, toy instruments and strings—sometimes all on one song, like “Insane Lullaby,” sung by James Mercer of the Shins.
There are occasional flashes of interest. Wayne Coyne contributes soulful vocals to “Revenge,” and Jason Lytle’s sweet voice adds poignancy to the druggy lament “Every Time I’m with You.” The album’s catchiest number is “Little Girl,” sung by Julian Casablancas, but over one minute of this relatively brief song is taken up by a guitar solo.
This unfocused record is ostentatious and devoid of humor. What it needed was more Gnarls Barkley and less David Lynch.