Sparklehorse, ‘Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain’ (Astralwerks)
Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous has spent years subverting his radio-friendly instincts. Although the singer/songwriter’s fourth album still buries his twangy hooks and tender voice under distortion-heavy squalls, some eclectic collaborators (Danger Mouse, Tom Waits, a Flaming Lip) help Linkous challenge listeners without scaring them away. Images of death and decay weave amid swirling psychedelic pop, frenetic British Invasion bashers, and languid California country rock. But the sound remains crisp, ensuring that its rough-hewn beauty shines through.