Sparklehorse - Don't Take My Sunshine Away/Ghost In The Sky/Knives Of Summertime

Mike Caulfield 26/09/2006

Rating: 4/5

Returning with a new album after five years, Mark Linkous' Sparklehorse (with a little help from Flaming Lips man Dave Fridmann and Dangermouse) release three singles, in as many weeks, as a precursor to the album release and eventually as one single, which will also coincide with UK tour dates. Happy days…

First single, 'Don't Take My Sunshine Away' is the kind of gorgeous dream pop number that we've come to know and love from Sparklehorse: shimmering guitar lines, angelic harmonies and Linkous' mix of wonderment and opaque imagery, whilst containing a crushing breakdown section that would have the musical minds of Messieurs Coyne and Drodz wetting themselves with joy. With production duties being held by Dangermouse and Dave Fridmann, the track inevitably contains its fair share of idiosyncratic moments, giving the finished record a sugary coating (a bit like Frosties) to Linkous' already sweet melodies, which in the past has proved too much for some listeners and critics.

Second single, 'Ghost In The Sky' is almost the polar-opposite, a buzz-saw garage-rocker with fuzz-box guitars and a driving rhythm making up the backdrop, Linkous' knack for writing an unforgettable pop melody carries over, even if it doesn't quite match previous glories. However, the track suffers from an over use of repetition for a horribly drawn out ending, which could mask a lack of ideas and is more album filler than second single material.

Finally, 'Knives of Summertime' is another gentle pop number, with Linkous' child-like delivery up against a neo-psychedelic landscape of backward guitar lines, electronic noodling and more heavenly vocal harmonies for further abstract imagery.

Judging from these three singles, the new album 'Dreamt For Light-years In The Belly Of A Mountain' might prove to be a mixed affair, but for fans of alternative pop, you aren't likely to find a more enchanting set of songs released in the final few months of 2006 than these.