13 August, 2010

From comic book to one of the top soundtracks of 2010

In my humble music-loving opinion, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World has rocked my world in a few ways, some quite literal.

I saw the movie yesterday, and refrained from listening to the full soundtrack until after I watched the film. First of all, I cannot say enough wonderful things about this movie. I went alone to an afternoon showing, because I couldn't convince any of my friends to come along. This sounds sad, but it was actually kind of awesome to go to the movie by myself and be completely engaged. The movie/video game style was campy and funny, the ironic and sardonic tones of the characters completely engaged and amused me (and stylistically stayed true to the comics), and the soundtrack didn't inhibit the story in anyway, but was a powerful driver for the dynamic of the movie. Way to go Beck who wrote the original songs by the fictional band Sex Bob-Omb and also the song "Ramona" which he takes full credit for (and should) on the soundtrack.

But I don't want to get ahead of myself. Here's the breakdown:

The soundtrack starts off with a song by Sex Bob-Omb (the band that Michael Cera's character belongs to in the movie). There are four of these songs on the album: "We Are Sex Bob-Omb,""Garbage Truck,""Threshold" and "Summertime". All of these songs are gems...albeit of the hard rock kind, rather than the shiny, shimmery diamond kind. "Garbage Truck" is probably my favorite, both because of its in-film placement, and because the lyrics completely parallel the sound (or vice versa). Basically, Sex Bob-Omb are a garage rock band that I could see riding on a garbage truck. Perfect.

Crash and the Boys have two songs (written by Broken Social Scene), both of which are short and far from sweet. They are fun! "I'm So Sad, So Very, Very, Sad" is completely it's title along with some squelching, smashing, crunching guitar. "We Hate You Please Die" lasts for almost an entire minute longer, and has some noise and garage influences with plenty of reverb.

"Ramona [Acoustic]" and "Ramona" by Beck are probably the highlights of the original music on the album. The first is an acoustic preview of the second, but both are unabashed love songs that are also very well written. I did not feel myself even slightly revolted by either song. They are not cutesy or emotionally overstated, and the fact that Beck delivers them in his signature mumble makes them even more touching in the same way that the movie is touching and awkward and true.

In terms of the not so original stuff, there's a great medley that perfectly references the movie in the best music nerd ways. "Scott Pilgrim" by Plumtree was written in the 1990's and (according to Wikipedia, not the best source - I know) inspired the Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O'Malley. "I Heard Ramona Sing" by Frank Black sounds like a mainstream Pixies song (understandably), but with it's jangly guitar and titular character it fits perfectly on the soundtrack. "By Your Side" by Beachwood Sparks and "Oh Katrina!" by the Black Lips are both alt-rock tunes that channel the same late (latent) teenage energy that courses through the movie. "Teenage Dream" by T. Rex and "Sleazy Bed Track" by the Bluetones both have a blues heavy depth and drag mixed with melodicism that make them great slow-dance/make-out numbers. "It's Getting Boring By The Sea" by Blood Red Shoes amps up the pace after "Sleazy Bed Track," and the frenetic pacing runs over a grooving bass line. "Black Sheep" by Metric is used very creatively in the movie, as the big song of Scott Pilgrim's evil ex-girlfriend's band. It sounds convoluted, but it works very well. The song is spacey, heavy and dark sounding, but it shapeshifts into a catchy synth-heavy pop song. "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene obviously references the Knives Chau character in the comics and the movie, but also brings some lush and tender strings and harmonies into play. I have to make a point of commenting on the use of "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones as a kind of theme song for the relationship between Jason Schwartzman's character and the Ramona character. It has a perfect sleazy, sexy quality that defines that bit of the movie, and made the internal music nerd a very happy one indeed. Finally, Brian LeBarton's "Threshold [8 bit]" brings you back to full cartoon-o-vision and video game style. Pow!

This is definitely the best soundtrack of the summer, and potentially the best of 2010.

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