Examiner.com: The Twilight Saga: New Moon – The Soundtrack gets a Track-by-Track review
What a special treat! Mark Morton, Soundtracks Examiner @ Examiner.com has an interesting in-depth track-by-track review regarding the upcoming release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack!
New Moon is inarguably the most anticipated soundtrack release of the year. There is an irony in that statement, because historically (with a scant few exceptions) soundtracks are the red-headed stepchild of the music industry. However, thanks to such monstrously popular releases like the High School Musical series, the Hannah Montana comps, and last year’s jaw-dropper Twilight, soundtracks are enjoying a resurgence that hasn’t been seen since the early 1980s, when Footloose, Flashdance, and Purple Rain were dominating the charts.
But with popularity comes a price. While the 1980s soundtracks were sculpted to draw in a variety of audiences, the modern soundtracks target very definite groups, be they children, ‘tweens, females, males, or genre-specific fans. New Moon seems to be designed to break down some of those barriers and open up its built-in audience to a broader spectrum of musical experience. While its predecessor Twilight seemed like a hodge-podge of “it” bands, taking advantage of a scene, building a franchise and an opportunity (not to mention bleeding Paramore’s fame just a little bit “more”), New Moon is more adventurous…no, daring in its bold choice of songs and artists.
New Moon is less a compilation of potential hit singles and more a conceptual album, though comprising 15 artists, bound thematically by mood, atmosphere, and attentive delivery. Here is a track-by-track analysis of the entire album:
1. Death Cab for Cutie – Meet Me on the Equinox
Upon an initial listen, the vocal tone has a retro, late 60s/early 70s vibe, like a cross between The Animals, The Kinks, and The Doors. The song is a good, moody, driving ditty. It has a bit of a Your Vegas structure to it, as well, because it has a bit of an upbeat tempo, but the message in the song fits in with the morose tone of the movie. The music has some great contrasting elements, because it consistently shifts between a gentle sob and a mournful scream. It ends very poignantly and abruptly, as if to say, “That’s it. Deal with it.”
2. Band of Skulls – Friends
This one has a very angst-y feel to it with a Ramones vibe – very punk-inspired rock. It is also very raw and impassioned, with a definite throwback sound. The chorus sounds almost akin to a sock-hop. But then this extremely dissonant lead guitar washes over the song, almost punching you in the face with post-modernism.
3. Thom Yorke – Hearing Damage
Yorke’s cut starts with a rumbling electronic sound, like an embittered NES. However, the track is very depressive in design. The vocals carry the song more than the music does. It is quite minimalistic with keyboard, drum loop and Yorke’s vocal, which affects a sort of Peter Murphy / Morrissey tone to his delivery. It’s probably un-PC to say it, but there is definitely some wrist-opening action here. The verses are very low in the mix, almost mumbled, as if to convey that the words are not as important as the brooding emotion Yorke is expressing.
4. Lykke Li – Possibility
The song startled me because it almost sounds like a child singing, with extreme echo on the voice, and a piano trolling in the distance. It sounds like a child who has just finished crying – very raspy and full of despair; evoking the feeling of loneliness very well. Li vocal performance reminds of a hybrid of Bjork and Susanna Hoffs. “Possibility” is another minimalistic song, with the vocals dominating the music. However, it is very character-driven, bringing an element of confused innocence to the table.
5. The Killers – A White Demon Love Song
There are several things going on in this song right from the opening – a tickling synthesizer, very light and breezy guitars, and vocal melody with a classic Beatles sound to it, like a cross between Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour. However, the song lulls along almost drunkenly, but as the volume increases, it takes on a bit of a David Bowie persona. From there it becomes extremely dense in mood.
6. Anya Marina – Satellite Heart
Marina kicks in with an embittered-sounding acoustic guitar and near-whispering vocals. It is another song that invokes confusion and frustration. It is interesting to hear a largely acoustic song to take on this role. “Satellite Heart” is accented with synthesized orchestration – adding a touch of listenable contentment to the track. I see this as a follow-up or escalation of the Lykke Li track, enhancing the lost innocence persona, like she’s resolved to the fact that whatever has happened has happened and there is no going back.
7. Muse – I Belong To You (New Moon Remix)
The main difference between this version and the version that appears on The Resistance is that the guitar is the primary instrument here, where in the latter, the piano drives the rhythm. The piano is still there, but it has been thrust into the background. Structurally, it sounds more like an early Maroon 5 song than a Muse song, and it bears a serious, single-friendly atmosphere to it. I’d hate to say it, but it would not sound out of place in a James Bond movie. The extraordinarily crisp production value really sets it apart from anything else on the album, as most of the songs on New Moon have a vulnerable rawness to them.
8. Bon Iver & St. Vincent – Rosyln
“Roslyn” slowly emerges with muted guitars, and is another song where the vocalist almost sounds like he/she has been crying before stepping up to the microphone. The vocals are ghostly, and heavily echoed. It is a mildly sluggish, weepy track with a bit of folk energy to it, especially when the banjo accompaniment kicks in. Ultimately, it appears more like an interlude between acts, or the changing of chapters than an actual song.
9. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Done All Wrong
It would seem that a common thread among most songs on this album is using an acoustic guitar as an introductive device. However, this one stands out because it sounds very determined with a hint of bitterness. It is one of those personal, introspective songs that was probably hastily written to retain its rampant emotional turmoil. It also sounds like the kind of song you would hear on a Thursday night in the backroom performance theater inside one of the countless bars in New York City’s Lower East Side. One of the standout elements is that it yields a bit of that Nick Cave sinister-ness to the vocals, as if something subversive is transpiring within the lyrics.
10. Hurricane Bells – Monsters
And now for something completely different, as the Python brigade would say. Hurricane Bells wafts over the album with some heavier rock tones, distorted guitar and a pop-ish melody. There is a distinct New Wave energy about the cut that would not sound out of place in the high school dance sequence in Sixteen Candles. There is a strong resemblance to Psychedelic Furs at moments and conveys a feeling of a person who has lost their way, struggling to find their identity in a world full of plastic people.
11. Sea Wolf – The Violet Hour
These guys sound uncannily like late 80s/early 90s The Cure – utilizing a depressive melody with withered vocals. The middle of the song strikes into a marching rhythm with a trembling dulcimer accompaniment, which gives it a progressive edge. It also smacks a bit of shoegazing. Probably with one other exception, this song puzzles me as to how the audience will react to it, because it does have such a throwback tone to it and doesn’t really resemble “now.”
12. OK Go – Shooting the Moon
OK Go rumbles in with bubbling percussion, acoustic guitar, tambourine, and softly muted vocals that remind of experimental, 1970s art rock. Eventually a Moog-like keyboard worms its way into the music, which adds to the artsy atmosphere. It is a sardonically hopeful song, as it saying, “Sure things are bad, but they can always be a lot worse.”
13. Grizzly Bear (with Victoria Legrand) – Slow Life
Feathery, tranquil acoustic guitar introduces this singer-songwriter song. It explores a strong emphasis on romance and emotional potency. It is something that I could very easily hear during the end credits, invoking strength of will and a passion that refuses to be contained.
14. Editors – No Sound but the Wind
Where Muse threw me for a loop because of its production value, this song jarred me, because of the very strong, brash vocals. It sounds like a very mature man serenading someone a couple decades his junior. It’s actually a little creepy if you think about it, recalling Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, or Rex Manning from Empire Records. Out of all of them, this song has the most difficult time meshing with the over-arcing theme.
15. Alexandre Desplat – New Moon (The Meadow)
Desplat offers a piano-driven cut – very fluid and hinting at the deep emotional distress occurring throughout the film. It sounds less like a piece of score and more like a solo recording designed for vocal accompaniment. It gives the agonized feeling of not knowing what to think, begging “why is this happening to me? When will the pain end?” It’s seriously a very powerful track. The music is structured in such a way that you can almost imagine that the piano is actually singing. It is a great way to close the album, and a very hopeful hint of what we can expect when the score is released on November 24th.
If you preorder the iTunes edition of the New Moon soundtrack, you will receive the following bonus material (in addition to instant access to the Anya Marina track):
16. Lupe Fiasco- Solar Midnite
17. Amadou & Mariam – The Magic Numbers
18. APM Orchestra – Die Fledermaus “Duettino: Ach, ich darf nicht hin zu dir”
19. Death Cab for Cutie – Meet Me on the Equinox (video)
20. Ulf Bastlein – Wandrers Nachtlied II, Op. 96, No. 3, D.768
As you may have heard, a media statement was released earlier today stating that the New Moon soundtrack street date has been bumped up to this Friday, October 16th. This means that for you folks playing the home game, Wal-Mart should technically be selling it at midnight Thursday night. The queue starts to the left.
Note: Make sure for all things Twilight that you are following the lovely Ms. Amanda Bell via Twitter! Her tweet name is: @TwiExaminer!