Okay, so I wanted to put off writing this post until after I had seen the movie. Part of this I must credit to my laziness (which I’m sure is evident from my lack of posts) and the other part is my belief that a soundtrack can be really amazing just as a musical compilation, but if it doesn’t fit in the context of the movie, well then it kind of defeats the purpose.
So, if you know me, you know that New Moon’s opening date has been marked on my calendar pretty much since the date was announced. And while I have a lot of thoughts on the movie (verses the book), some bad and some good, I will try to stay focused on the soundtrack and keep my extreme fandom to a minimum.
Those who’ve read this blog at all will know that I was chomping at the bits for this soundtrack if for nothing else but the contributions of some seriously bad ass musicians, the likes of which include Bon Iver (with St Vincent!!!), The Killers, Thom Yorke (of Radiohead), Grizzly Bear and Death Cab. The lineup read like a follow-up to the oh-so-brilliant Dark Was the Night album which was released earlier this year and has yet to be taken out of constant rotation. But enough of that plug…
The immediate stand out in this album for me was the Grizzly Bear track “Slow Life” which features the talented Victoria LeGrand on vocals. It’s moody and lovely, and lyrically fits the storyline without slipping into the realm of cheesiness.
Bon Iver’s “Roslyn” and Thom Yorke’s “Hearing Damage,” while both highly anticipated, could only be described as mediocre upon my first few listens. I have the exact opposite opinion now. In fact, I now consider “Roslyn” the best song on the entire album. Part of that is due to repeated listening, but it’s mostly due to their placement within the film. The Bon Iver track fits beautifully into the melancholy of Bella’s life without Edward, and the Thom Yorke track provides an amazing backdrop to arguably the best sequence of the film where the wolves seek out Victoria and Bella decides to make the leap. I still get chills a little thinking about those few shining minutes of the movie.
A few other standouts on this soundtrack are Eskimo Joe’s “Thunderclap” which sounds like a fist pumping 80’s power ballad (uhh-mazing!) and Lykke Li’s “Possibility” which was used during Bella’s time lapse after Edward leaves. And “The Violet Hour” by Sea Wolf couldn’t be more catchy and fun.
The most bittersweet part of this soundtrack has to be the instrumental song “New Moon (the Meadow).” I say bittersweet because it is exactly what “Bella’s Lullaby” should have been: soft, sweet and a little heartbreaking. And when you listen to this piano solo compared to Catherine Hardwicke’s clumsy choice for the lullaby, it makes you wish someone would just go back and redo the first movie just to include this song.
My biggest disappointment with this album is the Death Cab for Cutie song “Meet Me on the Equinox.” It’s not that it is a bad song, it’s just not as good as the rest of their stuff.
There’s been a lot of talk about this album being a failure in terms of how it compares to sales of the Twilight Soundtrack. This doesn’t surprise me at all. There were huge marketing/public relations efforts saturating the production of the first film of the franchise, aimed at making these sweet and charming novels into emo-loving Hot Topics driven melodramas. And the Twilight soundtrack was a huge part of that push. The idea behind it, of course, was to hock as many Twilight branded products as possible and maximize profitability. Not a bad plan from a marketing perspective. But as a fan, it’s heartbreaking. What does underwear, lip gloss and perfume have to do with this story?
But then that is my whole complaint with the first movie and soundtrack. Bella and Edward weren’t cutters who donned star printed black hoodies and nose rings. In fact, Bella was very understated and demur preferring t-shirts and jeans over anything trendy, and Edward was a fan of classical music, for goodness sake! That just doesn’t scream Linkin Park and black lipstick to me, but I have strayed from the topic again…
No, the only thing that has surprised me about this soundtrack is the fact that someone at Summit had enough sand to compile an album that uses fairly popular bands to draw attention while still staying true to the mood of the book. It’s a melancholy book, but it’s not angsty and doesn’t require the gimmicks of the first soundtrack. This album doesn’t feel forced at all, but instead compliments the movie wonderfully. I wager that even the most anti-Twilight people who appreciate music couldn’t help but fall in love with this album.