Somehow, the quiet presence of singer-songwriter Mark Linkous is never really forgotten. The painfully introverted troubadour remains one of those guys, an understated romantic and genius in that Jim O'Rourke or Daniel Johnston kind of way. For longtime Sparklehorse fans, the five-year break between the melancholia of 2001's It's a Wonderful Life and Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain was no surprise naturally, Linkous took his own sweet time. But it's nice to see that his eccentric indie rock wizardry didn't suffer at his perfectionist's state of mind. The dewy, hushed state of "Shade and Honey" and the tiptoeing acoustic guitars in "Return to Me" mark these songs as classic Sparklehorse. And even if the more adventurous "Getting It Wrong" (featuring electro-weirdo beats from Danger Mouse) and the killer, fuzzed-out tones of "Ghost in the Sky" hint at a touch of optimism, those same longtime fans will recognize the grayish, postcard-flat torpor, like viewing Linkous' songs through the wavering eyehole POV of a View-Master. Sorting out such blurred beauty has become Sparklehorse's legacy, and Dreamt for Light Years captures it with ease.
MacKenzie Wilson writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.