Various Artists – Wicker Park Soundtrack

Various Artists
Wicker Park Soundtrack

I wonder whether the makers of the film Wicker Park have purposefully assembled their film’s soundtrack so that it will appeal to today’s low-key hipsters. It sure seems possible, after all, based on the roster here. Among the marquee bands are the Postal Service, the Shins, Snow Patrol, and Broken Social Scene, all of whom did pretty well for themselves in 2003 and 2004.

Of course, it’s possible that the songs were chosen solely because they fit so perfectly with the action transpiring on the screen. It seemed to me the Garden State soundtrack had been assembled lovingly, in an effort to weave the music into the storyline (and to create a paean to the Shins, which was fine by me). I haven’t seen Wicker Park, so listening to the soundtrack felt like listening to any other compilation.

I don’t know enough about each of the artists featured here to know whether any of these tracks were written just for the movie; I suspect that few or none were. But then again it’s difficult to imagine Johnette Napolitano and Danny Lohner’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” or the Postal Service’s cover of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” appearing on an album of original works. Not that either is bad, mind you – but I find that neither quite lives up to the original. Ms. Napolitano’s raspy, gravel-and-sandpaper vocals fit “The Scientist” well, but this stripped-down version of the song seems to lack the emotion and conviction Coldplay mustered with the material. And say what you will about Phil Collins, he really put his heart and soul into his rendition of “Against All Odds.”

The Legends’ track “When the Day is Done” reminds me a lot of the Postal Service. It is eerily similar in mood and presentation, but with acoustic guitar and tambourine to give it more of a lush feel. “All I Do,” by +/-, comes off not as lush but rather as intentionally airy and insubstantial (in a good way). “A Movie Script Ending” by Death Cab for Cutie finds the “band” more subdued than usual, employing only acoustic guitar and vocals. The Mogwai track “I Know You Are But What Am I?” only served to remind me that Mogwai seems to have really fallen out of the spotlight since its Come On Die Young release.

The Stereophonics’ track “Maybe Tomorrow” is smooth to the point of being almost slick: it has a relaxed beat and dulcet guitar notes spread evenly across the choruses. In fact, the wah-wah guitar that comes towards the end seems intrusive and destructive to the mood of the song. The Mates of State track “These Days” sounds like most all the other Mates of State material you’ve heard.

For me, the real standouts were the Shins song “When I Goosestep” and Broken Social Scene’s “Lover’s Spit” (a different version than the one featured on 2003’s You Forgot it in People). But that’s because I really liked these songs before I heard this soundtrack. I guess that’s another way of saying that the soundtrack didn’t really sell me on any new artists. All the same, you probably know most of these artists, and so you probably only need to see a track listing to know whether this is an album for you.