#10- Sparklehorse- Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
The best "sad bastard" artists aren't the ones that turn out album after album of pure "bottom-of-the-barell" pieces of self-loathing and depression, it's the artists that know how to take a nice, cheery pop tune and tweak it slightly, giving it a bittersweet vibe that leaves the listener guessing as to the artist's intentions. Subtlety and moderation are key in the "indie-singer-songwriter" mold. It's what separates an Elliott Smith from a Bright Eyes. Even Smith followed up a grisly "2:45 AM" with an absolute upper in "Say Yes," or "Waltz #2" with "Baby Britain."
Enter Mark Linkous, or Sparklehorse. Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain perfectly balances Beatles-esque power pop with some of the deepest sadness you've heard on tape this year. Working with the Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd and Dave Fridmann, Danger Mouse and Tom Waits gives each track a different genre twist. But one thing remains the same - Linkous, like Smith or Jason Molina or Will Oldham or Bill Callahan or Daniel Johnston or other low-fi American bards before him, has a distinct voice that is both instantly recognizable and has an innate bittersweet quality that just defies explanation. With Linkous, you can even hear it through the layers of studio effects on "Getting It Wrong." And you can damn well hear it in "See The Light"'s refrain of "I can't see the light/ for the trees." And you can sure as hell hear it in his whispered tenor on "Return To Me."
The album didn't really kick in for me until it got cold out. For those that love any of the artist mentioned above, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain is an understated masterpiece and another gem from a guy that deserves his name mentioned a lot more often. Stunningly beautiful, uniquely produced and one of the year's best albums.
Sparklehorse- Don't Take My Sunshine Away from Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
Buy Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain