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Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse: Dark Night of the Soul (Capitol) 

The buzz was instant: Danger Mouse (né Brian Burton) and Sparklehorse (né Mark Link-ous) were collaborating on some sort of project with director David Lynch. It turned out to be a book of photographs by Lynch with an accompanying CD spear-headed by Burton and Link-ous, but featuring a huge cast of guest vocalists including Iggy Pop, Julian Casablancas, Black Francis—and Lynch.

But the project was doomed. It was to be released on Capitol, a subsidiary of EMI, which distributes the Beatles' albums—but Burton hadn't gotten clearance for the Beatles songs he used on his bootleg Beatles vs. Jay-Z mashup, The Grey Album. With the project in legal limbo, its creators released the book last year with a blank CD-R in protest (and likely leaked the album online).

Those issues apparently resolved, Dark Night of the Soul has finally been released, four months after Linkous took his own life. If that fact and the title alone weren't enough, the opening minor chords of "Revenge"—a moody, gorgeous collaboration with the Flaming Lips that begins with Wayne Coyne singing "Pain, I guess it's a matter of sensation"—are a giveaway: We're not in for the most uplifting album—though it is exceptional.

Standouts include "Little Girl," the Casablancas track, which is a sonic feast of mind fuckery; Lynch's dark, fairytale-esque "Star Eyes (I Can't Catch It)"; the woozy pop of Jason Lytle's "Every-time I'm With You"; and Vic Chesnutt's haunted "Grim Augury." That neither Chesnutt nor Linkous lived to see this album's release only makes its musical successes more bittersweet.

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