Sparklehorse are set to release their first album in five years, `Dreamt for Lightyears in the Belly of a Mountain'. The album follows the band's much applauded last album 2001's `It's A Wonderful Life'. As anyone who knows the joys of Sparklehorse, there's mystery and magic here once again. We are given glimpses of sleeping old bears, hammering hooves, Ophelia in the creek and Christmas bulbs glowing in the night. Mark Linkous remains a man shrouded in enigma and the last five years have bought with it much adventure as well as turmoil.
Battling his own personal demons while he has been highly coveted as a producer for other bands, singer/songwriter Mark Linkous' output with his own Sparklehorse has been as irregular as it is ingenious. And it's been five years since the candid album It's a Wonderful Life
welcomed a clean-and-sober, Linkous crafting the same divine and bizarre songs that have come to define his North Carolina-based band. That inclination continues here with the peculiar front man punctuating his songs with mentions of ghosts and knives and mountaintops, and presenting them with a murmured, spaced-out and psychedelic soundtrack. The up-tempo, bundle-of-nerves pop songs "It's Not So Hard" and Guided by Voices twin "Ghost in the Sky," though luscious, seem out of place among slow and startling ballads like "Getting It Wrong," "See the Light" or, especially, the imminent kiss-off "Some Sweet Day," where Linkous grouses, "I was the one who loved you most/ But you can't put your arms around a ghost." A parting shot that's meant to lingermuch like the 53 minutes that are Mark Linkous' latest comeback. --Scott Holter