Written By: Victor Alfieri
The music in a film can make or break the entire experience. How often do you find yourself humming or tapping to the music you heard during that great action scene in the last movie you saw? If the stunts were amazing, the explosions huge and the plot is tense, the wrong song choice can ruin that built up tension for the movie-goer.
In a movie like “(500) Days of Summer,” the expectations of the soundtrack are even higher. This movie is music-oriented and aimed at a specific demographic of music listener that is notoriously picky. The last great “indy” soundtrack to be released was for the movie “Garden State.” Both that movie and its music got under your skin like a rash. The kind of rash you wanted to scratch over and over. This album has a great blend of music, but falls short of the previous winner.
The average listener will pick up this soundtrack and enjoy it. Hey, you might even see a spike in Smiths sales. Regina Spektor has a beautiful voice and does well on two tracks. The Black Lips offer a Springsteen-esque party tune. “There Goes the Fear” by the Doves is a song that may be the most underrated on the album; having a Coldplay or Joshua Tree-era U2 feel that I can’t quite get out of my head.
Having not seen the movie, it’s hard for me to see the reason for the 80’s throwback Hall & Oates track. This seems like a throwaway to me, but it may play some major part in the film, so I’ll reserve judgment until I actually see it. The Temper Trap brings another nice track to the party. This Aussie band might find a following in the states with a little more exposure.
We are blessed with European royalty on Carla Bruni’s track, “Quelqu’un M’a Dit.” For all I know that means “Take out the garbage” but it sounds sultry and sexy in French. It’s a pretty tune. Feist contributes another pop-lite track followed by another bittersweet Spektor track and a classic tune from Simon & Garfunkel.
Wolfmother provides the highway driving anthem for the album in “Vagabond.” The song by Mumm-Ra is one of those summertime love songs. 20 years from now you will hear it and remember the love affair of 2009. Meaghan Smith contributes a Pixies re-make and the album wraps up with She & Him (Zooey & M. Ward) doing their rendition of the Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want.”
“(500) Days of Summer” is a nice blend of old and new here. The average or younger listener might be turned on to new tracks and that’s always a good thing. For the seasoned “indy” fan, this album lacks for new material. The Hall & Oates and Simon & Garfunkel tunes are out of place and the Feist tune was already released five years ago. Hearing the Smiths again was nice, but the great thing about these soundtracks is the “new” bands and music.