You can forget that it’s a soundtrack for a big Hollywood movie and you can forget that the movie is about vampires and werewolves (unless of course you like that sort of thing). But you should walk away from this remembering that The Twilight Saga: New Moon Soundtrack is an excellent album of cool songs featuring some of today’s celebrated indie artists.
All of the various indie styles are represented here (electronic, indie-pop, psych-rock, brit-pop, alt-rock, chamber-pop, post-rock, etc.) and the music seems to parallel the stylistic ebb and flow of what I imagine would be the melodramatic ups and downs of a vampire movie. And even though the temperament fluctuates from track to track, it is still a cohesive and captivating collection of songs.
The masters of melancholic indie-rock, Death Cab for Cutie open the album with a bang on “Meet Me On The Equinox”, which buzzes more than anything from their last two albums and features their signature guitar squalls and fatalistic lyrics. Other familiar indie-rock dignitaries contributing to this eclectic soundtrack include Thom Yorke (Radiohead) whose “Hearing Damage” is an experiment in electronic tones and textures with eerie keyboards, crisp electronic percussion and his familiar, moody voice. The Killers wrap their sleek and shiny synth-pop into a Beatle-esque ball of a pop song and add a sneering guitar line between catchy refrains on “A White Demon Love Song”. Muse use their unique blend of indie-rock, Queen-style classic rock, and prog to soar high on “I Belong To You (New Moon Remix)” without going over the top which they are known to do. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club fine tune their backwoods, alt-country sound with the edgy “Done All Wrong” that boasts a snarling, blues-y and punkish harmonica solo on top of sparse electric guitar chords while Grizzly Bear’s “Slow Life” entertains with trippy, symphonic pop and reverb-heavy vocals.
A few of the subdued, more sublime moments come on tracks by Lykke Li, Anya Marina, Editors and a collaboratory effort from Bon Iver and St. Vincent, where vocals take the spotlight. Lykke Li and Anya Marina use their luminous and soothing coos over echoing piano and acoustic guitar/synthetic backdrops respectively. “Roslyn”, the Bon Iver/St. Vincent collaboration, is a very sparse, campfire song that sounds like it was recorded in a damp cave, and Britain’s Editors’ “No Sound But The Wind”, brings goosebumps with a Nick Cave-like piano ballad and Tom Smith’s inspiring vocals.
But the highlight of the album comes in the form of the superb and original music by some lesser known bands like Sea Wolf (“The Violet Hour”), Band of Skulls (“Friends”), Hurricane Bells (“Monsters”) and OK Go (“Shooting The Moon”). Each one of their songs shows that these bands have a keen ear for creative music and a penchant for sinuous avant-pop. The adventurous and ultra-catchy indie-rock is injected with a colorful radiance that brightens these tunes enough to allow their intoxicating vapors to not only penetrate our brains but also our hearts, making The Twilight Saga: New Moon Soundtrack more remarkable every time you hear it.
In fact a suitable description would be the motto from venerable label Suicide Squeeze: “Great music made with great care and a punk rock soul”. I may not know much about vampires and werewolves or the Twilight Saga book series, but I do know about indie-rock and I know this is one fine and entertaining collection of artists and songs that shouldn’t be missed.
Atlantic Records: http://www.atlanticrecords.com/