Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain

Sparklehorse

Capitol, 2006

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/02/2006

The power of music never ceases to amaze me; I heard a clip of this album one night and felt like I absolutely had to track it down. The only problem? I’ve only had my driver’s license for a few months and can’t park within limit lines yet. Either way, I found myself at Best Buy a few hours later, panicking the entire way there that I’d crash – would the excuse that I had to buy the new Sparklehorse album work on a cop?

If you’re anyone but me, the answer would be a resounding no, since car repairs (not to mention gas) tends to cancel out the cost of a $10 CD. But it’s hard to deny the music reviewer part of my brain, and since you’re probably wondering, I was right: Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain is absolutely fantastic. bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

This is a triumphant release for Sparklehorse (led and anchored by vocalist, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous), one that was five years in the making due to Linkous’ debilitating drug addiction and his struggle with depression. For the most part, this album was recorded in bits and pieces; one song is a reshaped B-side, another was leftover from 2001’s It’s A Wonderful Life, a few came out of work with Danger Mouse and the rest are new tracks laid down in Linkous’ own studio.

Okay, so it sounds like a mishmash that definitely shouldn’t work, but each element comes together to create a surprisingly cohesive release. Just listen to the one-two punch of “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away” and then “Getting It Wrong:” the former is an upbeat (in instrumentation, anyway, since the lyrics are a plea to not be abandoned by his lover), folk-rocker with bright, clear harmonies – which is then quickly countered by the subdued, crackling beat and dark, distorted vocals of “Getting It Wrong.”

Dreamt for Light Years shines most notably on its foray into the sunshine-pop of “Shade and Honey” and “Some Sweet Day.” Both tracks are quietly beautiful, a shot of optimism with intimate vocals, catchy choruses and Linkous’ usual evocative imagery in lines like “Stars are dying in my chest until I see you again” or “She was my black earth and the fire in my spine / her magnetic waves gave birth / I was the one who loved you most but you can’t put your arms around a ghost.” Another standout in the same vein is “Return To Me,” which balances its breathy, despairing delivery with subtle acoustic guitar and a delicately hopeful sentiment.

And for its share of mope, the album has a few rockers thrown in, like “Ghost In The Sky” (the aforementioned rescued B-side) and “It’s Not So Hard” featuring vocals drowned in crunchy, abrasive guitars and driving beats.

Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain is one of those rare albums that lures you in with a track or two and ends up fixing you there beneath the power of its entirety. For all its contradictions, Linkous has created a unified work, one that was definitely worth the five-year wait.

Rating: A-

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© 2006 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.