Like many people listening to the soundtrack to the new Twilight movie, I have had no previous exposure to the book or movie, nor any desire to experience either of the two. Frankly, I feel odd every time I see the cover on my iPod. That a blockbuster movie so heavily tied with the tween demographic has produced a soundtrack filled with indie rock’s best acts is among the strangest developments of the year 2009.
The good news is vampires don’t factor into the soundtrack like they do in the movie. Few of the tracks sound as though they were specifically created with the movie in mind. The New Moon Soundtrack is simply a collection of popular and soon to be popular artists producing songs they probably would have made at some point anyway. This is pretty typical of soundtracks by multiple artists, and it reveals the true intent behind the soundtrack. This wasn’t created for the purpose of providing the best audio context to the movie, but rather it seems the album was designed for gathering hype for a movie that would otherwise have been off the radar in the indie world. Of all the submissions, only those by the OK Go and Grizzly Bear feel like they may have been made with the movie in mind, and even those don’t stray far from the artists’ respective sound.
Given last year’s Twilight soundtrack, the fear of another shoddy followup was very real. However, there is a surprising number of great tunes to be found. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke offers up “Hearing Damage,” a tune that easily outpaces the single he released earlier this year. Its electronic beats put it squarely in the same department as his 2006 solo album The Eraser. Aforementioned indie-heroes Grizzly Bear present the transcendent “Slow Life” which is the album’s highlight track. There are also solid contributions from Band Of Skulls, Death Cab For Cutie, Bon Iver & St. Vincent, Hurricane Bells, and Anya Marina. Even the Killers provide a listenable track.
The rest is just filler to provide the aural backdrop to the movie. Lykke Li’s “Possibility” drags it’s knuckles for five minutes without ever providing a reward for listeners. “No Sound But The Wind” and “Done All Wrong” both seem to have no purpose other than to score sad scenes in the movie. Similar to Lykke Li’s offering, Sea Wolf’s “The Violet Hour” seems just a bit too slow to ever build up to anything.
It is somewhat difficult to understand how this soundtrack has a place in a tween vampire movie. As a collection of songs, it’s certainly alright, but there are only a handful of memorable moments. Since many people will only be interested in a small handful of the album’s tracks, it’s probably best to just download the songs you like and leave the rest, as there isn’t any consistency or flow.